Stardust Announces Plans To Build Lithium Refinery At Port Of Muskogee

Stardust Power Inc., a development-stage American manufacturer of battery-grade lithium products, announced January 11 that it has selected Southside Industrial Park in Muskogee, Okla., to build a new battery-grade lithium refinery.  The company said it expects to break ground in the first half of 2024.

Port Muskogee’s central location on the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS) was a key consideration in the company’s decision. The company plans to use the waterway to barge in lithium brine water and barge out battery-grade lithium, according to industry sources.

“We welcome Stardust Power to Muskogee and are proud that our city and port will be at the forefront of powering the future of America’s automotive industry,” said Kimbra Scott, executive director of Port Muskogee. “The decision to establish a state-of-the-art lithium refinery reinforces Port Muskogee’s unmatched advantages and our commitment to supporting emerging industries. We look forward to a longstanding partnership as Stardust Power plants its roots in northeastern Oklahoma.”

“Stardust Power’s more than a billion-dollar investment is a testament to Oklahoma’s ‘all-of-the-above’ approach to energy and our focus on workforce development,” Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said. “As we see more energy manufacturers moving to our state, due in part to our competitive, performance-based incentives, Stardust Power’s new lithium refinery will create hundreds of new jobs while cementing Oklahoma’s place as the best state in the nation for critical mineral manufacturing. I’m proud to welcome Stardust Power to Oklahoma, and I applaud their commitment to American energy dominance.”

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“We would like to thank Gov. Stitt and officials at the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, Tulsa Chamber, city and Port of Muskogee for their strong support,” said Roshan Pujari, founder and CEO of Stardust Power. “Oklahoma offers many advantages for private employers, including a strong, well-trained workforce and an eye on the future of energy production and mobility.”

“Currently there is no large-scale refinery for battery-grade lithium in the United States, exposing the country to undue national security and supply chain risk,” Pujari said. “We will work with oil and gas producers to address America’s growing energy demands. When fully operational, our new lithium refinery will both speed America’s energy transition and boost Oklahoma’s local economy, creating significant new investment and employment opportunities. We are excited to call Oklahoma our new home.”

Lithium refining is a key technology in the race to decarbonize, since lithium-ion batteries power electric vehicles, whose market share is rapidly expanding, helped by tax incentives in several Biden administration energy and infrastructure bills.

On its website, Stardust portrays the company as addressing a problem of national security. “The global energy transition is upon us, and the global economy is quickly becoming electrified. The lack of domestic lithium production used to build batteries for EVs is creating a bottleneck in the American economy. The domestic and global demand for lithium is growing rapidly and is poised to accelerate in the coming years as countries and companies adopt more aggressive decarbonization and renewable energy goals, creating a higher demand for electric vehicles and the lithium-ion batteries that power them. America needs refinery capacity as China currently dominates the global market.”

The project is expected to be eligible to receive up to $257 million in state and federal economic incentives for the facility build-out. The total value of the economic incentive package will ultimately be determined by Stardust Power achieving certain business milestones around job creation and local investment, including new machinery, equipment and manufacturing.

The Oklahoma Department of Commerce performed an illustrative analysis of the incentive package based on the company’s inputs.  The company said it may also be eligible for further federal grants and/or incentives offered by the Department of Energy and the Department of Defense.

Oklahoma is becoming recognized as an emerging leader in sustainable power, including solar and wind, supporting Stardust Power’s commitment to limit its carbon footprint. In 2022, Oklahoma ranked third in the U.S. for electricity generation from wind, accounting for 93 percent of the state’s total renewable generation. But with five petroleum refineries, Oklahoma is also the country’s fifth-largest producer of marketed natural gas and the sixth-largest producer of crude oil.