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Battery Factory Planned for Reclaimed Coal Mine Delayed

Company president says project is 'a lot harder than we thought.'

Lexington Herald-Leader, @heraldleader

PIKEVILLE, KY. (AP) — A proposed battery manufacturing plant on a reclaimed coal mine in eastern Kentucky has been delayed at least one year after the company discovered problems at the construction site.

EnerBlu President and CEO Daniel Elliott said the company has not found a way to build its facility at Pikeville's industrial park, The Lexington Herald Leader reported . Elliott told the Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce on Thursday that it would cost $30 million in soil work to fix the problem, a price he said the project could not withstand.

"We're trying like hell," he said. "It's a lot harder than we thought."

EnerBlu announced in 2017 that it would build a $372 million plant in Pikeville. Company officials said it would employ 875 people, with the chance to grow to 1,500 people over time. The company received a $6 million grant last year from the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet's Division of Abandoned Mine Lands. Last year, the company moved its headquarters from Riverside, California, to Lexington, Kentucky.

The plant was originally scheduled to open in 2020. Elliott said Thursday that the company hopes to open the plant in 2021. Elliott also said the company has not yet acquired permits needed for a proposed warehouse and research facility in Lexington, Kentucky, a process further delayed by the partial federal government shutdown.

The EnerBlu project is often mentioned alongside Braidy Industries' planed $1.68 billion aluminum mill in Ashland, Kentucky, as the catalyst for jumpstarting an eastern Kentucky economy that has been crippled by the declining coal industry.

Elliott said the company plans to find a solution for the Pikeville project. Pikeville City Manager Phil Elswick said the city "will work through any development issues as they come up."

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