Canada Nickel Co. is looking to spend US $1 billion to build a nickel processing plant in Ontario, which would be North America’s largest once it is completed.
The plant will have the capacity to produce more than 80,000 tons of nickel a year destined for EV batteries, with operations scheduled to begin in 2027, according to a press release.
“We’re going to see nickel demand double or triple over the next 10 years as we gear up battery production here in North America,” Mark Selby, chief executive of Canada Nickel, told CBC News in an interview.
The company also plans to build a stainless steel and alloy production plant to process nickel and chromium concentrate, which would cost an additional USD $2 billion, according to chief executive Mark Selby.
Canada Nickel is valued at around US $166 million, and it plans to seek funding from both the Canadian and Ontario governments to help build the plant.
The company says that the plan aims to fill the gap in North America’s EV battery supply chain, which is packed with plenty of raw materials like nickel, copper, and lithium, but lacks the infrastructure to process and refine them.
Most metals extracted from mines in North America are shipped to China for processing and then returned to North America for domestic automakers to use them in their EVs.
Still, the price of nickel has dropped considerably in recent months as the market is flooded by fresh supply from Indonesia, sparked by Chinese investments and “technological breakthroughs,” according to Bloomberg. Nickel mines around the world are at risk of shuttering, with some asking for bailouts or filing for bankruptcy.
Still, Selby told Bloomberg that he expects demand for North American nickel to soar in the push for domestic sources of battery metals.
“Nickel has always been seen as a strategic metal,” said Selby. “Given the current state of geopolitics, and the Chinese control of Indonesian resources, becoming solely dependent on Indonesia and China for nickel, I don’t think a lot of end-users and governments here will want that.”
Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act has funneled huge investments into building batteries and other materials in the US, with 14 battery plants under construction in the country – all with the hopes of building a domestic supply chain and reducing dependency on China.
For its part, Canada has done a good job of attracting new investment from the EV industry. Reports say that Canadian industry minister Francois-Philippe Champagne has spent most of last year building up EV investments to solidify the country’s clean-tech future by offering tax breaks and the promise of overflowing renewable energy sources and rare minerals used in EVs.
Volkswagen just and its battery company PowerCo are building a gigafactory for cell manufacturing in St. Thomas, Ontario, with production starting in 2027 – however, VW did put plans for PowerCo’s IPO on hold. Swedish EV battery maker Northvolt is also building a zero-emissions battery factory in Quebec, a province with access to hydroelectric power and a lithium mine near La Corne. Of course, batteries coming from Canada with materials found in Canada will also help vehicles qualify for the US’s federal EV tax incentives.
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