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Electric battery startup SPARKZ to open a factory in West Virginia
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The energy startup SPARKZ said Tuesday it will locate an electric battery factory in northern West Virginia.
The batteries will be built at a 482,000-square-foot plant in Taylor County off U.S. Route 50 near Bridgeport, the company said in a statement. The plant, which eventually will employ 350 workers, originally was a glass factory that ceased operations in 2009.
The plant will produce cobalt-free batteries, an effort to bring down the cost of U.S. lithium-ion battery production. The Democratic Republic of Congo has historically been the top producer of cobalt worldwide, with most mines controlled by Chinese companies.
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In March the Livermore, California-based company announced intentions to build the plant. An agreement with the United Mine Workers union was announced in May to recruit and train dislocated miners to be the factory’s first production workers. West Virginia has lost thousands of jobs in mining and other resource extraction industries in recent years.