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Lithium plant thriving in Gaston County



A local lithium processing company is expanding in Gaston County.

Livent Corporation executives and local and national leaders cut the ribbon on their new facility expansion in Bessemer City Monday.

Since the 1950s, the facility has produced ground-breaking technology around the globe.

“They are certainly a model of what a good corporate citizen is and should be,” Gaston Country Board of Commissioners vice chairman Bob Hovis said.

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The corporation employs about 200 workers and is now known for manufacturing lithium products.

“We have seen the growth, and ‘I’ve seen that we need more and more Lithium. The challenge with Lithium is the raw material is not here. The raw material for us is in Argentina,” Livent CEO Paul Graves said.

What is there – is equipment and training to turn those imported products into lithium hydroxide, a material used to run electric vehicles.

“I mean, the entire world is looking for a more sustainable solution; the politicians are seeing that. They are developing policies, and then we are at the beginning of this transformation to electrification of vehicles,” Chief Operations Officer Barbara Fochtman said.

In 2018, Graves said Bessemer City had to prove to companies that it was worth investment. That meant supporting their mission and lowering costs to operate there.

“The City of Bessemer and Livent have an interactive agreement to work cooperatively together. We have provided them with raw water when raw water was all they needed instead of treated water at a reduced expense,” Hovis said.

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“This opening of the new plant is a validation of all the effort that the employees here have put in for the last four, five years,” Graves said. “It is not just about opening a new facility, but it is really Bessemer City demonstrating it has a future in Livent and especially in the lithium industry as it grows.”

Cameras were not allowed in the new facility due to the confidentiality of the equipment inside.

Bessemer City’s new expansion will boost the area’s manufacturing capacity by 50%.

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