Phoenix Business Journal

By Paul Thompson – Managing Editor
May 31, 2024

Inside Arizona Lithium’s new Tempe research center.

A new research facility backed by the Arizona Commerce Authority has opened in Tempe that is expected to advance lithium processing technology and support two lithium mining developments in North America — including one in Arizona.

Australia-based Arizona Lithium Ltd. has opened its 20,451-square-foot Lithium Research Center, which will serve as a “technology incubator focused on the extraction of lithium” from key North American lithium developments, according to a May 31 announcement. Those developments include the Big Sandy Lithium Project in northwestern Arizona and the Prairie Lithium Project in Saskatchewan, Canada, where Arizona Lithium recently commenced drilling operations.

The facility announcement marks another feather in the cap of Arizona’s growing battery manufacturing sector. In the Phoenix metro alone, LG Energy Solution Ltd. is planning a $5.5 billion battery complex in Queen Creek, while the first phase of KORE Power Inc.’s forthcoming 908,880-square-foot battery cell manufacturing plant in Buckeye is estimated to cost $1 billion and bring more than 1,600 jobs to the area.

Arizona Lithium’s Tempe facility features a 16,469-square-foot processing facility for lithium chemicals and a 3,982-square-foot research lab. It will create more than 20 high-skilled jobs and support hundreds of jobs at the Big Sandy project. The Lithium Research Center is “focused on technological advancements in lithium processing,” according to the announcement.

“We strongly believe the LRC is critical to the company in order to test and optimize our lithium processing technologies and ultimately produce Lithium from both of our major projects, Prairie and Big Sandy, in the most economic and sustainable manner,” said Paul Lloyd, managing director of Arizona Lithium, in a statement.

Arizona Lithium in 2022 announced its plans to bring a lithium research facility to Arizona, but it didn’t yet have a location. At the time, the company said it had accepted a grant for $1 million from the ACA and is eligible for financial programs related to capital investment and job creation totaling more than $100 million.

“Arizona Lithium marks yet another international company investing in Arizona, showcasing the state’s global attractiveness,” said Sandra Watson, president and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority, in a statement. “The Tempe facility strengthens Arizona’s mining and materials industry and highlights our leadership in clean energy technologies, such as batteries.”