Syrah Resources has started active anode material (AAM) production at its 11.25ktpa plant in Vidalia, Louisiana, US.

This development positions Syrah as the first commercial-scale, vertically integrated natural graphite AAM supplier outside China.

The commissioning and production activities at the Vidalia facility have been a multi-month process, with Syrah’s operations team involved as each plant area was prepared for handover.

Since October 2023, the front-end milling area has been producing unpurified spherical graphite, stockpiling precursor material ahead of the purification and furnace areas’ commissioning in January 2024.

In January 2024, the company achieved a critical milestone by producing its first batch of purified spherical graphite.

The initial heating cycle for the furnace line began in early January, leading to the successful carbonisation of the company’s pitch-coated purified spherical graphite.

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Under an existing offtake agreement, Syrah will supply Tesla with 8ktpa of AAM from the Vidalia facility, contingent on the production ramp-up and the completion of the qualification process.

Additionally, the company plans to expand the Vidalia site to reach a 45ktpa AAM capacity.

This includes the current 11.25ktpa AAM, which is being prepared for a final investment decision.

The Vidalia operations team, comprising 101 employees, supports the commissioning process and is working to increase operations and production.

As operations ramp up, Syrah plans to build inventory for future sales. The company is focused on generating revenue from the Vidalia facility as soon as possible.

However, it has also secured working capital funding to support the production ramp-up, the qualification process, and the transition to sales.

Syrah managing director and CEO Shaun Verner said: “Commencing production at Vidalia is a huge step forward in Syrah’s evolution, with the downstream integration being the culmination of almost seven years of technology development, plus feasibility, procurement, engineering, construction and commissioning work undertaken by the Syrah team and its service providers.

“Our 11.25ktpa AAM Vidalia operation is strategic for both Syrah and the North American battery supply chain and is the foundation of our downstream growth strategy.

“This strategy is supported by strong EV-driven demand globally, recognition of the importance of independent natural graphite AAM critical mineral supply, and differentiation in terms of emissions intensity of production and provenance of supply.”