Electric car battery

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced last week that Ottawa and Ontario have signed a deal with Umicore, a multinational global metals refiner based in Belgium, to build a new EV battery plant in the province’s Loyalist Township. According to Trudeau, the facility will supply materials for one million electric vehicles a year.

Under this new partnership, Umicore will transform metals such as nickel, cobalt and lithium into cathode active battery materials (CAM) at the new eastern Ontario site. The new facility is expected to create 1,000 jobs while it is being built, in addition to long-term positions once it is officially operating.

In his address at Queen’s University in Kingston, ON, Trudeau said the government and industry investments are part of a “big bet” that Canada can be a key international player in electric-vehicle supply chains. “Today’s announcement is about creating jobs, cutting pollution and building a stronger, cleaner economy for Canadians,” he shared. “Umicore’s intention to establish its new facility in Loyalist Township is another major step forward as we make Canada a global leader in producing electric vehicles, from minerals to manufacturing.”

Ontario’s Economic Development Minister, Vic Fedeli, has clarified that the $1.5-billion investment will build the first industrial-scale manufacturing plant of its kind in North America.

“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,” Fedeli said.

According to Federal Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, the plant will fill a gap in the Canadian electric-vehicle system by shoring up a key part of the battery-making process, and will make Kingston a key part of the auto sector in Canada.

Apparently, the plant will be built with some financial support from both levels of government but details of this investment have not yet been shared. Ontario Premier Doug Ford was not at Wednesday’s announcement, however, he has since released a statement noting that these multi-billion dollar investments are paying off, and helping the province to “strengthen its position as a North American auto manufacturing powerhouse.”

After signing a memorandum of understanding with Ottawa, Umicore will be able to tap funds from the federal Strategic Innovation Fund to help offset some of the construction costs associated with building a plant of this size. The plant, which will begin construction in 2023, will be situated on a 140-hectare parcel of land in the province’s Loyalist Township. If everything goes according to plan, the facility should be up and running by the end of 2025.

“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,” said Mathias Miedreich, CEO of Umicore.

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