Graphite One Project Is Just the Start

WEATHERSFIELD – The decision of a Canadian graphite materials company to locate its manufacturing operation at a former munitions depot in Weathersfield Township is just the beginning of future development there, says the developer of the project.

“Graphite One is our anchor tenant,” says Herb Crowther, president of MegaJoule Ventures and Valley Property Investment. That’s the development team that has staked out 85 acres at the former Warren Depot along Warren Avenue as the site for the new operation. “I have a half dozen other companies that are interested and have other advanced material processes who would benefit from the energy infrastructure at that campus.”

Graphite One Inc., based in Vancouver, Canada, announced March 20 that it would invest $435 million to develop a synthetic and natural graphite anode materials plant and initially create 160 jobs. The graphite would be used to manufacture anodes – or the negatively charged material found in batteries and other energy storage devices. 


Crowther says Graphite One’s lease would include 85 acres of a total 184 at the site. Some 150 acres is considered immediately developable, leaving additional space for other companies, he says.

“For five years we’ve been working on the Warren Depot property,” Crowther says, land once used to store materials for the U.S. Department of Defense.

The addition of Graphite One fits a vision that the development group and Brite Energy Innovators,  the clean energy incubator in Warren, had for this particular part of Trumbull County.

“We did this with the intent to create an industrial park in the circular economy and seek out companies in the battery-materials supply chain and other specialty chemicals. This was a very intentional strategy,” Crowther says.

Through networking within the industry, he says his team was responsible for placing the Mahoning Valley on Graphite One’s radar.  Initially, the company had plans to develop a plant in the state of Washington, closer to Graphite One’s mining venture near Nome, Alaska. 

“I persuaded them that a better location would be in Ohio, close to their customers and that we have a shovel-ready site,” Crowther says. “We invested years of planning.”

The idea is to create synergies with other existing energy-related ventures, especially battery cell manufacturers such as Ultium Cells LLC, a joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solution that operates a production plant in Lordstown. Ultium manufactures battery cells used in the GM portfolio of electric vehicles.

Crowther says the company plans to manufacture graphite powder, which is then sold to customers that convert the material into slurry used to produce anodes. Battery-grade graphite, he says, is high performance material and makes up half of the material in a lithium-ion battery.

Graphite One’s Alaska mine contains the largest deposits of natural graphite ore in the United States. It is among the largest in the world, Crowther says.

However, the plant proposed for Trumbull County would first manufacture synthetic graphite, which can be produced through byproducts of fossil fuels, including coal. Thus, the impact of the plant would be felt throughout the Appalachian economy.

“It’s a total game changer,” Crowther says.

Graphite One’s plant would then begin to process natural graphite once the Alaska mine ramps up, Crowther says.

He credits the vision and assistance of organizations such as Brite Energy Innovators. MegaJoule is a Brite Energy portfolio company that bought the former office building of Republic Steel to house early-stage energy companies from Brite so they could remain in the region. 

“This project could not have happened without Brite,” he says.


The president and CEO of Brite, Rick Stockburger, says the project emerged from a strategy adopted two years ago among Brite, MegaJoule, JobsOhio and the Natural Resources Defense Council that identified Ohio as a prime site for energy-related companies. In February 2022, a JobsOhio and NRDC report detailed a data-heavy market analysis justifying their position.

“This is a data-driven approach to economic development,” Stockburger says. “I think you’re going to see more of this data-driven approach. This is a great time in the Mahoning Valley to be on the forefront of economic development.”

Attracting supply chain firms related to energy is vital to the growth of the industry across the region – since nicknamed “Voltage Valley” because of its home to ventures such as Ultium Cells LLC and Foxconn Ohio’s EV plant in Lordstown.

“Graphite hits all the buckets,” Stockburger says. 

Graphite One said the Warren site was selected because it is situated “in the heart of the automobile industry.”  The area also possesses ample low-cost electricity produced from renewable energy sources, the company noted, plus road and rail access and nearby barging facilities.

The site’s existing power supply is sufficient for Phase 1 of the project, which constitutes the production of 25,000 tons of battery-ready graphite anode material per year, the company said. 

Additional land is available for potential expansion that could ramp up to 100,000 tons of material per year.  Future plans call for a recycling plant at the site that would reclaim graphite and other battery materials. The company has signed a 50-year lease.

Currently, 100% of natural graphite is imported into the United States and the company plans to fully build out a domestic supply chain to support industries such as the EV market and other energy ventures.


The first phase of the plant would require a capital investment of approximately $435 million and would create 160 jobs, the company said, adding it is “considering various project-financing options.” Among these is a potential grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Guy Coviello, president and CEO of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, says the chamber recently met with representatives of Graphite One and DOE to explore grant opportunities to support the project. Coviello isn’t sure whether a grant would ensure that the project moves forward, he says, but it “would be a key shot in the arm to get this project finished.”

The chamber has sent letters of support to the DOE regarding the project, emphasizing how an anode plant would fit with the region’s overall growth strategy. “A new battery anode facility here synergistically adds to our cluster of companies like Ultium Cells, Foxconn and Thomas Steel Strip (Tata),” Coviello wrote March 5 in a letter to DOE.

“Ohio is the perfect home for the second link in our strategy to build a 100% U.S.-based advanced graphite supply chain – from mining to refining to recycling,” Graphite One President and CEO Anthony Huston said in a statement. “The U.S. simply cannot maintain a 21st century tech-driven economy without critical minerals like graphite.”