Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Koura Proposes $800M investment in EV battery supply chain projects in Iberville Parish

by BIZ Magazine

ST. GABRIEL, La. – Orbia’s Fluorinated Solutions business, Koura, announced it is exploring two expansion projects at its Iberville Parish that would support America’s lithium-ion battery production supply chain, enabling domestic production of 1.7 million electric vehicles annually.

The first proposed project is the construction of a $400 million world-scale manufacturing facility that would produce LiPF6, a component that allows for the flow of electricity through lithium-ion batteries. This facility would be the first of its kind in the U.S. and Koura estimates it would produce 10,000 metric tons of LiPF6 per year.

The company has also proposed an additional $400 million investment to build a second new production plant that would have the potential to manufacture 40,000 metric tons of R-142b annually. R-142b is a primary building block in polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF), a critical binding agent for lithium-ion battery production.

“Koura’s proposed expansion is a prime example of how supporting clean energy and emission reduction projects can benefit our state’s established petrochemical sector and drive economic growth,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “If these projects come to fruition, Louisiana will play a key role in bolstering the U.S. EV battery supply chain while also providing high-paying job opportunities for our skilled workforce for years to come.”

If the projects move forward as outlined, Koura expects to create 100 direct new jobs across the two projects with an average annual salary of $80,000, while retaining 80 current positions. It also anticipates the creation of more than 2,000 construction jobs at peak construction of both facilities. Louisiana Economic Development estimates the projects would result in a combined 283 indirect new jobs for a total of 383 new jobs in the Capital Region.

“Orbia’s Fluorinated Solutions business, Koura, is uniquely positioned to leverage our innovative ‘mine-to-market’ capability to enhance the domestic lithium-ion battery supply chain,” Koura Director of Growth Operations Erick Comeaux said. “Expanding our strategically located site in St. Gabriel will provide new opportunities in U.S. energy security while safeguarding existing jobs. Our commitment to advancing life around the world means working toward a clean future to meet modern needs for resilience and energy independence, in Louisiana and around the world.”

Koura’s St. Gabriel facility has been in operation since 1991 and currently produces R-134a refrigerant. These new facilities would support the company as it aims to expand domestic manufacturing of EV and electrical grid batteries and shift production of their materials and components to the U.S.

The company anticipates a final investment decision on both projects in the coming months. It expects construction of both new facilities to begin in 2025 and begin commencing operations in 2026.

“Koura’s proposal for building two new operating units at the company’s St. Gabriel facility located in Iberville Parish would certainly enhance the economy in Iberville Parish and the state of Louisiana for both job creation and capital investment,” Iberville Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso Jr. said.

In 2022, the company was selected to receive a $100 million award for production of LiPF6 from the U.S. Department of Energy as part of the first set of projects funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

To support the projects in St. Gabriel, the state of Louisiana has prepared two competitive incentive packages that would include the comprehensive workforce development solutions of LED FastStart. Each project was also offered a $1.5 million performance-based grant for site infrastructure and a $1 million retention and modernization tax credit, both contingent upon meeting payroll and investment targets. The company is also expected to apply for the state’s Industrial Tax Exemption and Quality Jobs programs for both projects.

“We are excited to celebrate Koura’s proposed expansion in Louisiana’s Capital Region with not one, but two new manufacturing facilities,” said Russell Richardson, Baton Rouge Area Chamber senior vice president of business development. “With a combined investment of $800 million and 100 new direct jobs, the expansion would be a substantial economic win for the region that highlights our ability to attract large investments with our talent, infrastructure, and state and local support.”

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