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By Shane Lasley
Metal Tech News 

Giga-expansion of Gigafactory Nevada

Metal Tech News - February 1, 2023


Last updated 4/16/2023 at 6:54am

Rending of the completed Tesla Gigafactory Nevada in the desert near Sparks.

Tesla Inc.

Gigafactory Nevada will have the capacity to produce enough batteries for 1.5 million light-duty electric vehicles per year.

Tesla's 140 GWh plant will produce batteries for 1.5M EVs per year; need globally significant mineral supplies.

Tesla Inc. set the standard for giga-scale lithium-ion battery manufacturing with the startup of its 35 gigawatt-hour-per-year Gigafactory in Nevada in 2016. Now, the pioneering company is setting a new benchmark for electric vehicle battery production with a massive 100 GWh expansion of its world-changing factory.

The news that Tesla has committed to investing heavily into expanding battery production and building a Semi plant in the Silver State was announced by Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo during his Jan. 23 state of the state address.

"I am looking forward to joining Elon Musk and the team at Tesla tomorrow when they unveil plans to build a brand new $3.5 billion advanced manufacturing facility in northern Nevada for the company's all-electric semi-trucks," he said.

In a blog on its website, Tesla confirmed that it would be adding significantly to the $6.2 billion it has already invested in Nevada.

"We will be investing over $3.6 billion more to continue growing Gigafactory Nevada, adding 3,000 new team members and two new factories: a 100 GWh 4680 cell factory (with capacity to produce enough batteries for 1.5 million light-duty vehicles annually), as well as our first high-volume Semi factory," the EV company inked in the blog.

Once fully expanded to its nearly 140 GWh capacity, Gigafactory Nevada 2.0 will be a globally significant consumer of cobalt, graphite, lithium, manganese, and nickel.

Bigger battery production

The 4680 cells to be manufactured at the 100 GWh gigafactory in Nevada is much larger than previous cells used in Tesla EV batteries – think D cells compared to AA batteries. The larger size and other enhancements were made to extend the range of the EVs powered by batteries packed with 4680 cells.

"We get five times the energy with six times the power and enable 16% range increase," Tesla Senior Vice President Drew Baglino said of the new larger cells.

The new factory to build these larger cells is nearly three times larger than the original 35 GWh Gigafactory that Tesla began erecting in the desert east of Sparks, Nevada in 2014.

The 5.4-million-square-foot Gigafactory Nevada, or Gigafactory 1 as it was called when it was first built, was an original cornerstone of Elon Musk's vision to accelerate the global transition to EVs charged with renewable energy.

During Tesla Battery Day in 2020, Musk said Tesla's ability to accelerate the adoption of renewable energy will be the true metric for determining "What good did Tesla do?"

"It's incredibly important that we accelerate the advent of sustainable energy," he said. "Time really matters."

Toward this ultimate goal, Tesla's original Gigafactory has produced 7.3 billion battery cells and 1.5 million battery packs since production began in 2016.

Now, the Nevada plant will be pushing out the batteries powering the e-mobility and renewable energy future at a much faster pace.

Significant mineral inputs

A quadrupling of battery storage coming out of Gigafactory Nevada means a massive increase in the minerals and metals that make lithium-ion batteries possible.

Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, a global expert on lithium battery supply chains, forecasts that the fully expanded Tesla battery factory in Nevada will be a globally significant destination for the global supply of the primary mineral inputs for lithium-ion batteries.

How significant? To supply this one factory would require more than 15% of the cobalt, graphite, lithium, manganese, and nickel produced globally last year.

Here is Benchmark Mineral's breakdown of the annual mineral inputs that would be needed for a 140 GWh Gigafactory Nevada 2.0:

Graphite anode – 140,000 to 170,000 metric tons (13.5% of 2022 global supply).

Nickel – 110,000 to 125,000 metric tons (23.9% of 2022 global supply).

Lithium – 100,000 to 115,000 metric tons (18.1% of 2022 global supply).

Cobalt – 11,000 to 15,000 metric tons (9% of 2022 global supply).

Manganese – 9,000 to 14,000 metric tons (14% of 2022 global supply).

Benchmark also estimates Gigafactory Nevada 2.0 will also need 1,000 to 1,500 metric tons of aluminum per year.

These estimates are based on nickel-cobalt-manganese and nickel-cobalt-aluminum battery chemistries currently used by Tesla. The anodes in both types of batteries consist almost entirely of graphite.

Lithium battery and EV manufacturers, however, are constantly looking for new chemistries that extend range and durability, while also reducing charging times. While this may change the proportions of each metal required, some mix of the above metals and potentially some new ingredients will likely be the standard in the coming years.

Semi, commercial production

In addition to batteries, Tesla Semis will be rolling off the assembly line at Gigafactory Nevada.

This will be the factory to produce this fully electric heavy hauler with 500 miles of range and energy consumption of less than 2 kilowatt-hour-per-mile energy consumption.

According to Tesla, the semi-trucks that deliver food and goods account for roughly 18% of U.S. vehicle emissions.

Gigafactory Nevada will require globally significant battery mineral inputs.

Benchmark Mineral Intelligence

With Semi, Tesla aims to provide a cleaner option that also lowers fueling and maintenance costs – all while not giving up anything when it comes to performance.

"Three independent motors provide instant torque and unmatched power at any speed so drivers can merge safely and keep pace with traffic. Accelerate from 0-60 mph in 20 seconds, fully loaded, and maintain highway-level speeds even up steep grades," according to the company.

Powered by 4680 cells rolling off the expanded battery production lines, the Semis produced at Gigafactory Nevada are designed to achieve the metric Tesla measures itself by.

"Thank you to the Tesla team, our supply chain partners and the local community that has made accelerating the world's transition to sustainable energy possible at Gigafactory Nevada," the company inked in its blog post.

Author Bio

Shane Lasley, Metal Tech News

With more than 15 years of covering mining, Shane is renowned for his insights and and in-depth analysis of mining, mineral exploration and technology metals.

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 907-726-1095


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