Westwin Elements breaks the ground on their upcoming pilot facility
LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) - The facility is a proof-of-concept to show stakeholders how the full-size project would operate, effectively making it a trial run.
However, it could still have a very real impact on the community.
This pilot facility is set to be the first nickel and cobalt refinery operating in America, according to officials with Westwin Elements.
“This is not just important for Lawton, this company that is going to be setting up shop right here in Lawton, America, but this is important for the state of Oklahoma. It’s important for this country when it comes to national security issues as well as far as what we’re going to be refining right here,” said the Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma, Matt Pinnell.
Officials with Westwin Elements say Lawton was the best choice out of all of the proposals they received because of how much the city believed in the project.
“Lawton has moved in a way that most bureaucracies don’t. They’ve worked really hard to get it, and Lawton offered up an incentive package totaling $24-million, which is extraordinary for a municipality. This is a town that I personally want to invest in in the way they’ve invested in us,” said KaLeigh Long, the founder of Westwin Elements.
Westwin Elements has been established for just over a year now, which is why officials say bringing people with experience is crucial to getting things started.
“The amount of wealth and knowledge of this team. Many of the executives have done work, and really mining work in 40, 50 other countries around the world. They have multiple decades worth of experience in mining,” said Pinnell.
“We’ve got to meet our timeline,” added Long. ”To meet our timeline we need guys who’ve done this before, and know what mistakes not to make that could jeopardize that timeline.”
According to officials with Westwin they will have a focus on nickel production as it is safer for the environment, and this pilot facility will allow the company time to make modifications as well as gain future investment for a full-sized commercial refinery.
“I just think these materials are too critical for defense, for electrification, for environment. They’re too important for a variety of agendas for anybody to work against them,” said Long.
Lt. Gov. Pinnell said as things kick off, not only will this help diversify Oklahoma’s economy, but will increase Lawton’s standing within the state.
“We’re really excited for this company,” Pinnell added. “We want Lawton to be mentioned in the same sentence as Oklahoma City and Tulsa, not the next paragraph. When we talk about growth, big cities in Oklahoma, thriving economic engines we want Lawton to be in that conversation just as much as Tulsa or Oklahoma City.”
Officials with Westwin Elements said construction of the pilot facility is projected to begin in a few months, and set to begin operations sometime in 2024.
This facility is expected to bring around 85 jobs to Oklahoma.
Copyright 2023 KSWO. All rights reserved.