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Ascend Elements-SK Ecoplant Plan Christian County, Kentucky, Battery Recycling Complex

Ascend Elements and South Korea-based SK ecoplant plan to establish lithium-ion battery recycling operations in Christian County, Kentucky. The $65 million project is expected to create 60 jobs.

The new 100,000-square-foot facility comes as part of a joint venture between Ascend Elements, SK ecoplant and its subsidiary, TES, and will annually produce around 12,000 metric tons of black mass, a fine powder that contains the valuable cathode and anode materials inside an EV battery. Production is scheduled for January 2025.

“With this joint venture, we are deepening our relationship with SK ecoplant and also reaffirming our commitment to Southwestern Kentucky,” said Michael O’Kronley, CEO of Ascend Elements. “The EV battery materials industry will continue to grow in the United States, and Kentucky is at the center of it all. I’d like to thank Gov. Beshear and his staff for their partnership as we work to accelerate the global transition to clean energy and bring good jobs to the community.”

To encourage investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) preliminarily approved a 15-year incentive agreement with Ascend Elements under the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based agreement can provide up to $2 million in tax incentives based on the company’s investment of $65.8 million and annual targets of: creation and maintenance of at least 53 Kentucky-resident, full-time jobs across 15 years; and paying an average hourly wage of $34 including benefits across those jobs.

By meeting its annual targets over the agreement term, the company can be eligible to keep a portion of the new tax revenue it generates. The company may claim eligible incentives against its income tax liability and/or wage assessments.

“I want to once again thank Ascend Elements for investing in the commonwealth, as well as welcome its new partner, SK ecoplant, to our state,” Governor Andy Beshear noted. “Our automotive and EV-related growth has shown no signs of slowing down as we continue to position ourselves as the national leader in the electric future. This is another great project bringing dozens of quality jobs to West Kentucky, and I look forward to all this partnership can achieve as part of Team Kentucky.”

In addition, the company can receive resources from Kentucky’s workforce service providers. Those include no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job-training incentives.

“We are honored to welcome our first South Korean company as part of the joint venture with Ascend Elements,” added Carter Hendricks, executive director of the South Western Kentucky Economic Development Council. “We thank the company’s leadership and vision to create nearly 60 awesome jobs and a $65 million capital investment.”

Massachusetts-based Ascend Elements is a provider of sustainable, closed-loop battery material solutions. The company’s hydro-to-cathode direct precursor synthesis technology produces new CAM from spent lithium-ion cells more efficiently than traditional methods, which results in lower costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

South Korea-based SK ecoplant is an environmental energy solutions business. SK’s affiliated company, TES, specializes in sustainable technology lifecycle services and e-waste recycling.

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