GREENWICH, Conn., April 20, 2023–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Stardust Power Inc. (“Stardust” or the “Company”), an American developer of lithium resources critical to the U.S. electric vehicle (“EV”) supply chain, announced today its plan to build a new battery-grade lithium refining facility in the Central United States. When fully operational, Stardust’s factory is expected to produce 50,000 metric tons per year of high-quality battery-grade lithium, supporting the expansion of domestic manufacturing and helping to secure U.S. energy independence.
For Stardust, the refinery’s strategic central U.S. location will ensure it is well-positioned from both upstream and downstream perspectives, with offtake agreements negotiated with lithium miners and a lithium refinery in close proximity to the expanding universe of gigafactories in the South and Midwest. The Company is targeting facility construction beginning by 2024, with production starting in late-2025.
Stardust’s focus is to support America’s energy independence. Lithium is essential to the global electrification transition, the critical resource required for EV batteries, among others. Today, up to 85% of lithium resources are sent to China for refinement and then sold to manufacturers; the U.S. currently has only one lithium producing asset in Nevada, which produces approximately 5,000 metric tons per year vs. the estimated 500,000 metric tons per year of unrefined lithium required to power EVs. With the current development of approximately 25 gigafactories across the U.S., there is an acute need for national lithium refining capacity to develop in lockstep with battery production to build supply chains that are logistically sound and cost effective.
Stardust’s strategy is likewise centered on sustainability, favoring lithium brine deposits, including spent brine sources, over hard rock deposits, and open pit methods of mineral extraction. Stardust’s use of direct lithium extraction technologies is more environmentally sound, and the refinery will also feature sustainable, low-carbon power sources. With these factors at play, Stardust intends to become one of the most sustainable, cost-effective suppliers of battery-grade lithium in the U.S.
To deliver on its plan and production schedule, the Company has assembled an experienced management and technical team with deep industry expertise and a proven track record of developing critical lithium projects. Key Stardust executives include:
- Roshan Pujari, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer. With over 20 years of analysis and deal making experience, Mr. Pujari is the Executive Chairman and Founder of VIKASA Capital, a global investment firm, where he has led the firm’s energy transition business. He is a leading entrepreneur, investor, and philanthropist, and Chairman of the Pujari Foundation, a 501(c)(3) educational organization, which promotes the interests of arts, culture, education and community around the globe.
- Pablo Cortegoso, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer. Mr. Cortegoso, a Civil Engineer, is a recognized lithium specialist with over 15 years of experience in civil and lithium mining projects worldwide. He specializes in lithium project development and technical advisory, having advised and supported lithium projects globally that range from initial exploration, to pond design and modeling, to mineral resource estimation, to mineral reserve statements for brine and hard rock deposits. He has led and supported lithium projects in South America, Africa, North America, Australia, and Europe, most recently, advising and supporting the joint venture, Aurora Lithium, developing Europe’s largest, most sustainable lithium plant in Portugal. Before that, Mr. Cortegoso was a key member of the SRK Global Lithium group offering technical proficiency in lithium exploration, basin targeting and characterization, on-site well field design and construction, well field planning and management through groundwater numerical modelling, solar pond simulation, pre-concentration engineering design, project infrastructure design, brine processing and environmental managing of process residuals.
- Charlotte Nangolo, Co-Founder and Head of Exploration. Another seasoned SRK alum, Ms. Nangolo has over 15 years of experience in the mining industry, from operations to consulting in business improvement, cost estimation, and financial modeling of mining projects. In addition, she has financial markets experience as a mining research analyst, focused on financial modeling and research. Ms. Nangolo is the Founder of Minerals of Africa, an exploration company focused on Africa.
“We are pleased to announce Stardust Power’s formation,” said Roshan Pujari, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer. “There is currently no large-scale refinery for battery-grade lithium in the U.S., exposing the country to undue national security and supply chain concerns. Our goal is to bridge the critical gap in domestic supply, creating battery-grade lithium from a central U.S. refinery, to allow for America’s establishment of a secure battery materials and technology supply chain and ensure long-term U.S. economic competitiveness.”