Electra Battery Materials Corp.’s new cobalt refinery in Northern Ontario won’t open till spring, however after inking a provide settlement with the world’s second-largest battery cell producer this fall, the upstart mineral processor is already eying growth.
Company CEO Trent Mell stated the cobalt sulfate provide take care of South Korea-based LG Energy Solution (LGES) signed Sept. 22 will account for about 60 per cent of its refinery’s output throughout its first three years in operation, and that demand from different gamers all through the electrical car battery provide chain is extraordinarily robust.
“Truthfully, we could sell it all tomorrow,” he instructed Automotive News Canada of the plant’s remaining output.
Mell stated he expects the corporate may have one other provide deal to reveal earlier than the tip of 2022 after which, “we’re basically taking orders on future expansion.”
Construction on Electra’s cobalt sulfate refinery in Temiskaming Shores, Ont., about 500 kilometres north of Toronto, was initially scheduled to wrap up earlier than the tip of the yr, however provide chain points that affected “critical equipment” compelled the corporate to delay commissioning the plant. The firm additionally boosted its value estimate for the mission to between US$76 million and $80 million, up from $67 million initially.
Mell doesn’t anticipate any additional delays to getting what will probably be North America’s solely cobalt refinery up and working.
“I think we’ve got a handle on it. We have pushed out our commissioning until spring, but we feel pretty good with the team and the long-lead visibility that we have that we’ll hit that.”
As automakers pile into the EV market and shopper demand picks up, Electra is seeking to scale up its cobalt sulfate capability accordingly. Mell stated the corporate’s new refinery will produce sufficient cobalt for about 1.5 million EV batteries per yr. But North American demand will rapidly outstrip this determine, he added.
“We are looking to backfill on that, to add to the capacity at our current plant in Ontario.”
A SECOND COBALT REFINERY?
Electra can also be taking a look at a second cobalt refinery in Bécancour, Que.
General Motors, Posco Chemical and BASF are already constructing battery supplies operations within the fast-evolving hub halfway between Montreal and Quebec City, and the proximity to potential clients would offer the chance to construct an built-in plant, Mell stated. Electra is engaged on a pre-feasibility research right into a refinery within the metropolis, in addition to doing preliminary work on the plant’s engineering.
“There’s every reason to believe that a big, big portion of our capital is going to be funded through provincial and federal support, and so that really does lower the hurdle rate for us to make a go of it. And to the extent we’re able to take orders today on future deliveries from that plant, that’ll bolster it as well.”