Tesla has broken ground on a lithium refinery in South Texas, making the company the only automaker in North America that will refine its own lithium, Kallanish reports.

The plant near Corpus Christi in Nueces County will produce enough lithium to power about 1 million electric vehicles/year by 2025, making Tesla the largest North American processor of lithium. The plant is expected to be complete in 2024, with full production to be reached about a year later.

According to a statement from the Texas governor office, Tesla will invest $375 million in the eco-friendly plant at Robstown and create 400 permanent jobs.

“As we look ahead a few years, a fundamental choke point in the advancement of electric vehicles is the availability of battery-grade lithium,” says ceo Elon Musk.

Building the new plant forces the company to do more than just build automobiles, as getting into lithium refining and processing was a necessary move, he adds. The executive didn’t specifically address how much lithium the refinery would process, but said the company would continue to purchase lithium from its vendors.

In a statement, Tesla added the project reflects its efforts “to aggressively increase supply of battery-grade lithium hydroxide available in North America.” In the future, the facility will also process other intermediate lithium feedstocks, including recycled batteries and manufacturing scrap. Once complete, the facility will represent an investment of around $1 billion and create around 250 full time jobs, the company claims.

Kathleen Hogan, undersecretary of the US’s Department of Energy, welcomed the first-of-its-kind project during its ground-breaking ceremony on 8 May. “Tesla has been a leader in the EV space for such a long time and now they are being an amazing leader on building out the clean energy supply chain here in this country, which is what we’re going to be seen more and more,” she suggests, as the US pushes with its policies and incentives. “Most importantly, we will secure a domestic supply chain and energy future, nationally,” she concludes.