Syrah Resources plans $ 137.5 million expansion plan for 2023 – Mississippi’s best community newspaper

VIDALIA, Louisiana – Executives at Syrah Resources, a tech company located in Vidalia, Louisiana, bragged about a $ 137.5 million expansion plan at a community forum on Tuesday, which they said is expected to create additional jobs and give the city’s economy an astronomical boost.

Syrah has occupied the former rubber recycling plant located near the port of Vidalia since 2018.

Their operation grinds graphite mined in Mozambique and shipped to Vidalia to produce active anode material to power lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles.

With the growing demand for green energy, the company said demand for the material is expected to double by 2030.

China has traditionally cornered the market for the production of this material, however, Syrah officials say that with their technology, they can produce the same material with less than half the carbon dioxide emissions as production facilities in China. China.

Paul Jahn, commercial director at Syrah, said the company plans to install the commercial capacity to produce 10 kilotons of anode material each year by 2023.

To do this, they will need to expand their plant in Vidalia to add 75 graphite grinding stations to the 12 existing stations, improve purification circuits and replace its only carbonization furnace with four larger furnaces, Jahn said.

Since 2018, Syrah has invested around $ 40 million in installing Vidalia in Phase 1 of the operation and expects Phase 2 to be an investment of $ 137.5 million or more, said Jahn.

The company expects to make a final investment decision by December 2021, he said. Currently, Syrah is working to close deals with clients and secure funding for the project, Jahn said.

Loren Scott, Ph.D, of economics consulting firm Loren C. Scott & Associates Inc. said the project itself would have a direct impact on the local economy as contractors build the additions to the new facility. and in doing so, sleep in local hotels and shop at local grocery stores or eat at local restaurants.

On top of that, the current Syrah workforce of 21 would grow to at least 80 employees who would more than double the average income in Concordia Parish with an average salary of $ 86,800.

In turn, this would have a ripple effect in the economy that could induce job creation in other areas such as the restaurant and service industries, as these wages are spent in the Parish of Concordia.

“If you think of Concordia Parish as this great economic pond, we’re going to take a stone and throw it in that pond. … When that happens, it will spill over to the edge of the pond, creating more jobs, income and income, ”Scott said.

Destiny Robb, a citizen of Vidalia who is a member of a group opposing the Syrah installation, asked why the company would not hold a public hearing regarding the expansion to address environmental concerns that citizens might to have.

She argued that Tuesday’s public forum, which took place on a Thanksgiving afternoon with many working or traveling, does not count as a public hearing.

Robb shared information posted on the “Save Concordia Parish” social media page that alleged the company was participating in “fictitious permits” as a tactic to evade issues of environmental threats.

“Dilution does not excuse pollution,” she said. “We would have liked to have had more time, and not Thanksgiving week, to hear both sides of the issue.”

However, Anne Duncan, who is the vice president of Operation Vidalia de Syrah, argued that the facility is not harmful. She added that greenhouse gas emissions from transportation alone in the United States are three times higher than in other countries combined.

Phase 2 would produce enough AAM to take more than 300,000 internal combustion engines off the road, or the equivalent of a quarter of vehicles registered in Louisiana, she said.

“We are a minor source when it comes to our emissions,” she said.

Responding to Robb’s “fictitious permit” comment, Jahn said, “We are not trying to avoid a major source permit in any way. He added that Syrah had engaged with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Equality, which approved their process. He said the Syrah graphite purification process, which uses acid leaching, is done safely and is used in industry on a routine basis with safeguards in place.

When Mayor Buz Craft addressed Robb’s statements, Robb said Craft disrespected him and left the meeting.

“You make a lot of claims that aren’t true,” Craft said. He added that the opposition group “would not listen to science. It was hysteria.

When another participant in Tuesday’s forum asked why Syrah chose Vidalia for this project, Jahn replied, “Why not? “

“In the process of setting up this facility, we started with ‘which country’,” he said.

He added that Vidalia stood out because the location had plenty of space to expand the operation and would provide low-cost electricity generated by the downstream hydropower plant.

Vidalia also has a nearby port facility at Natchez to transport graphite down the Mississippi River, he said.

“But what really tipped the scales were the stakeholders in the community,” Jahn said.

Chandler Russ, Executive Director of Natchez Inc., said: Syrah has been steadfast in meeting all of its commitments since the project began in 2018.

“Very few times do companies say that and that’s where they actually end up,” Russ said. “Event with COVID-19 setbacks, they did not waver. They haven’t had a single heist since the start of the project. It’s not every day that $ 150 million is poured into our community. It is important. It is a growing industry that will exist for decades. “

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