Belgium-based Umicore will invest more than $1.1 billion (CAN$1.5 billion) to build a first-of-its-kind industrial scale cathode and precursor materials manufacturing plant in eastern Ontario.
Spanning about 350 acres in Loyalist Township, construction is scheduled to begin in 2023 with operations planned for the end of 2025. The project will create jobs for around 1,000 people during the construction phase, and employ several hundred workers once it is operational.
“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.”
The Umicore facility will support Ontario’s vision of building an end-to-end EV supply chain in the province and becoming a North American hub for building the cars of the future. The company will build a near-carbon-neutral facility to manufacture cathode active materials (CAM) and precursor cathode active materials (pCAM), components that 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.
The Umicore plant would be the first of its kind industrial scale facility that combines production of pCAM and CAM at the same facility. Cathodes account for about 50 percent of the value of an EV battery and contain key critical minerals such as nickel, cobalt, manganese, and lithium. The eastern Ontario facility 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 percent 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.
“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 investment in eastern Ontario accelerates the province’s 10-year vision for the Driving Prosperity ― The Future of Ontario’s Automotive Sector plan. Phase 2 of Driving Prosperity, announced in November 2021, demonstrates the government’s ongoing commitment to transforming the province’s automotive supply chain to build the cars of the future, including the production of hybrid and fully battery electric vehicles, EV battery and component production, and increasing exports of Ontario-made auto parts and innovations.
This project is also strategically aligned with the government’s Critical Minerals Strategy announced in March 2022. This strategy will strengthen Ontario’s supply chains, attract new investment in the mining and manufacturing sectors, and build economic development opportunities for Indigenous partners.
Since 2020, Ontario has attracted nearly $14 billion in automotive manufacturing investments, with upgrades and new technology for facilities across the province. This includes more than $11 billion in EV and EV battery investments. The province is also the only jurisdiction in North America to have five major global automotive assemblers —Ford, General Motors, Honda, Stellantis and Toyota — as well as truck manufacturer Hino.