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Local battery recycler plans $1 billion Kentucky plant

CEO Mike O’Kronley speaking to a tour at Ascend Elements’ Westborough battery recycling facility.Ascend Elements

Westborough-based battery recycling company Ascend Elements said it will invest up to $1 billion in a new facility in Hopkinsville, Ky.

The plant will use Ascend’s water-based recycling technology to extract lithium and other exotic metals from rechargeable batteries used in electric cars. Ground-up lithium-ion batteries from an Ascend plant in Covington, Ga., will be shipped to the Hopkinsville plant and reprocessed for use in up to 250,000 electric vehicle batteries per year, the company said Monday.

Ascend will invest $310 million in the first phase of construction, which is set to begin in the fourth quarter of 2022, and as much as $1 billion if the company decides on further expansion. The Kentucky plant is to begin operations in late 2023, and could generate up to $4.4 billion in economic benefits to the Kentucky economy in its first 10 years of operation. Ascend said it chose the location because of its proximity to a number of automobile factories and lithium-ion battery plants.

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Hiawatha Bray can be reached at hiawatha.bray@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeTechLab.