Representatives of Syrah Resources of Vidalia said last week that the company is considering a $137.5 million expansion that will mean more local jobs.
Syrah, headquartered in Australia, opened shop in Vidalia in 2018. It produces graphite anode materials for batteries in electric vehicles and other products. The company is operating in a 50,000-square-foot industrial building formerly occupied by a company that processed rubber.
Expansion will be on land Syrah owns adjacent to the existing building.
The expansion announcement was made during a community meeting in Vidalia on Nov. 23.
Syrah’s leadership team updated the public on its work to establish the world’s first vertically integrated natural graphite based battery anode material supply chain outside of China.
According to a press release from the Town of Vidalia, “The planned expansion will have a highly beneficial economic impact on the town and the surrounding areas.”
Syrah’s Paul Jahn said in 2018 that company employed 650-plus worldwide and has a market capitalization of approximately $800 million.
According to the company, the key driver of battery market growth “is the rapid adoption of electric vehicles.” Syrah says that electric car sales are expected to reach 20 million by 2030.
Graphite is a natural carbon mineral that is mined and concentrated. Spherical graphic “is a very fine natural graphite powder which has been machined into the referred shape, size and concentrate for application in lithium-ion batteries.”
To meet growing demand, Jahn said the company will expand its operation, install more equipment and hire more people.
The company reports that it has invested $40 million in the Vidalia plant since 2018.
Dr. Loren C. Scott, an economic consultant and an energy specialist, said Syrah’s expansion investment will mean more jobs from construction to mill workers as well as a boost to the local economy.
Vidalia Mayor Buz Craft said previously that the company would “produce a product that has the potential to take 300,000 gas burning cars off the road each year,” noting that “Syrah is going to be a springboard for a great future.”
Destiney Robb of Vidalia, one of a group of Vidalia citizens who has expressed opposition to Syrah’s operation, spoke up against the project at the meeting.
The citizens group “Save Concordia Parish,” posted on its Facebook page last week that Syrah was “involved in sham permitting” by “piggy backing” on the town’s wastewater permit and thereby “putting heavy metals and tons of strontium into our unlined sewer lagoons, threatening our wastewater.” The group cites other chemicals it says are endangering the health of citizens.
Company officials said Syrah was following all environmental regulations in its operations and that its product for electric cars will reduce greenhouse emissions by removing internal combustion engines off the road.