There’s yet another blockbuster announcement tied to electric vehicle battery investments for Canada. Umicore plans to make a $1.5 billion investment to build a first of its kind industrial scale cathode and precursor materials manufacturing plant, in eastern Ontario.
This investment would support Ontario’s vision of building an end-to-end electric vehicle (EV) supply chain in the province and becoming a North American hub for building electric vehicles. Building the facility will provide employment for around 1,000 people in the construction phase and employment for several hundred in operations.
Umicore N.V., a multinational circular materials technology company based in Belgium, will build a near-carbon-neutral facility in Loyalist Township to manufacture cathode active materials (CAM) and precursor cathode active materials (pCAM). The components are critical in the production of EV batteries. The investment represents an important step forward on the path towards Ontario’s goal to develop a vertically integrated battery supply chain in the province able to support large-scale EV production in North America.
Cathodes account for about 50 per cent of the value of an EV battery and contain key critical minerals such as nickel, cobalt, manganese, and lithium. This historic investment in eastern Ontario would further connect Northern Ontario’s mineral sector to EV manufacturing in the south. Each component of the battery supply chain plays an important and interconnected role in the production of EVs.
“Today is another perfect example that our plan to rebuild Ontario’s auto industry is gaining speed and will deliver huge wins for communities,” said Premier Doug Ford. “Ontario has everything it needs, up and down our homegrown supply chain, to remain and strengthen its position as a North American auto manufacturing powerhouse. Umicore plans to bring this part of the EV supply chain to Ontario which will continue to transform our auto sector and create good jobs.”
At full production, the plant will produce annual cathode material volumes sufficient to manufacture batteries for one million battery-electric vehicles – almost 20 per cent of all North American EV production at the end of the decade. Umicore’s plant will leverage Ontario’s clean electricity system, that was more than 90 per cent emissions-free in 2021. Ontario is also developing a clean energy credit (CEC) registry that will enable companies like Umicore to voluntarily purchase CECs to demonstrate that all of their electricity has been sourced from non-emitting resources.
The Umicore plant would be the first of its kind industrial scale facility that combines production of precursor cathode active materials (pCAM) and cathode active materials at the same facility. Spanning about 350 acres, construction is targeted to begin in 2023 with operations planned for the end of 2025.
“This important investment by Umicore will turn Ontario into a North American leader in this high-value segment of the EV supply chain and further connect Northern Ontario’s mineral sector to EV manufacturing in the south,” said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. “With recent success attracting major investments to the province, our government is staking Ontario’s claim to developing and building the batteries that will power vehicles of the future.”
This was the latest in a series of impressive electric vehicle battery manufacturing plant announcements for Ontario and Quebec this year. The others included:
· On March 4, 2022, BASF announced an agreement to secure land for a new cathode active materials (CAM) and recycling site in Becancour, Que. The site will be capable of producing up to 100 kt CAM per year. BASF is aiming to commission the project by 2025.
· On March 7, 2022, General Motors and POSCO Chemical announced a partnership with the governments of Canada and Quebec to build a $500-million facility to produce cathode active material for GM’s Utium batteries starting in 2023. The facility will also be built in Becancour, Que., with construction beginning immediately.
· On March 23, 2022, Stellantis and LG Energy Solution Ltd. announced a $5.2-billion investment to build Canada’s first large-scale electric vehicle battery plant in Windsor, Ont.—the largest investment in Ontario’s automotive history. The facility will create 2,500 jobs and have the capacity to produce 45 GWh of battery cells annually for the North American market.
· On March 30, 2022, Magna International Inc announced it’s opening an electric vehicle battery component factory in Chatham-Kent in southwestern Ontario.
“Canada and Ontario have all it takes for Umicore to establish a full-fledged, sustainable supply chain for battery materials, all the way from the mine right to the end-market of electric vehicles. Once the key customer contracts are in place, this expansion in North America would complete our global rollout of regional supply chains for our automotive and battery cell customers to now three continents,” said Mathias Miedreich, CEO of Umicore. “Moreover, we are most grateful to the Canadian and Ontario governments for their support and for their readiness to co-fund this planned project. The facility will help Canada and Umicore in their shared objective of achieving a carbon-neutral battery supply chain.”
Since 2020, Ontario has attracted nearly $14 billion in transformative automotive manufacturing investments, with upgrades and new technology for facilities across the province. This includes more than $11 billion in electric vehicle (EV) and EV battery investments.