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Oklahoma Scores Big Win With New Stardust Lithium Refinery

Photo Courtesy Stardust Power

The race to build clean energy infrastructure across the United States requires large financial investments from the private sector and government bodies, all with the goal of meeting state and federal emissions-reduction targets. Those dynamics were on full display early this year when Stardust Power said it would develop a new lithium refinery in Oklahoma that could involve more than $250 million in state and federal incentives.

Stardust is an Oklahoma-based developer of battery-grade lithium products. On Jan. 11, it announced plans to build the refinery at the Southside Industrial Park in Muskogee. 

According to a press release, Stardust is “expected to be eligible to receive up to $257 million in state and federal economic incentives for the facility build-out.” The company might also be eligible for further federal grants and incentives offered by the U.S. Department of Energy and Department of Defense.

Photo Courtesy Stardust Power

The Muskogee site was selected because of Oklahoma’s location in the middle of the country, which allows Stardust to ship its products over “multiple transportation routes to support the company’s refining operations.” Other key factors include the area’s “superior intermodal freight transport options as well as a highly skilled workforce trained in oil and gas engineering.” 

“Oklahoma offers many advantages for private employers, including a strong, well-trained workforce and an eye on the future of energy production and mobility,” Roshan Pujari, Stardust Power founder and CEO, said in a statement. 

Pujari also noted that there currently “is no large-scale refinery for battery-grade lithium” in the U.S., which makes the country vulnerable to national security and supply-chain risks.

Photo Courtesy Stardust Power, Inc.

“We will work with oil and gas producers to address America’s growing energy demands,” Pujari said. “When fully operational, our new lithium refinery will both speed America’s energy transition and boost Oklahoma’s local economy, creating significant new investment and employment opportunities.”

Although Stardust did put an exact dollar figure for how much it would spend on the new facility, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt referred to it as a “billion-dollar investment” in a statement accompanying the press release.

“Stardust Power’s new lithium refinery will create hundreds of new jobs while cementing Oklahoma’s place as the best state in the nation for critical mineral manufacturing,” Stitt added.

According to the press release, the total value of the economic incentive package will “ultimately be determined by Stardust Power achieving certain business milestones around job creation and local investment, including new machinery, equipment, and manufacturing.” The Oklahoma Department of Commerce analyzed the incentive package based on inputs from Stardust, which led to the estimate of $257 million in state and federal economic incentives.

Photo Courtesy Stardust Power

Stardust was expected to break ground on the project during the first half of 2024. One of the company’s goals is to increase domestic lithium production, which is used to build batteries for electric vehicles.

“Lithium-ion batteries are a critical component of electric vehicles and require significant amounts of lithium, either lithium hydroxide or lithium carbonate,” the Stardust website says. “California alone requires that by 2035, 100% of new cars and light trucks sold in the state will be zero-emission vehicles. The Californian market is modeled by world markets, which has solidified the global energy transition to electrification.”

The company also has an eye on sustainability. Stardust Power’s sustainability program includes using renewable energy sources such as solar or wind. Doing so can “reduce overall emissions” created by the Muskogee facility.

Photo Courtesy Stardust Power


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