Canada targets global leadership in EV batteries with $1bn Belgian plant

The government of Canada has signed a memorandum of understanding with a Belgian technology company to build a large-scale battery materials factory at Loyalist Township, a municipality in central eastern Ontario.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the partnership with Umicore cleared the way for negotiations to begin on a formal agreement, including federal support for the project. If all goes to plan, this will result in a facility able to supply batteries for a million electric vehicles (EVs) a year, as well as creating 1,000 jobs during the construction phase.

Trudeau said the funding was part of a “big bet” that Canada could become an international player in the EV supply chain.

“Canada isn’t just going to be a global player in EVs. With this and other announcements we’ve made, we demonstrate that we get to be global leaders,” he said, reports the Canadian Press news agency.

Umicore will invest US$1.1bn in a cathode and precursor materials plant. Cathodes make up about half of the value of an electric vehicle battery.

Umicore said in a press statement that the plant would be the first of its kind in North America, and would complete the missing link in Canada’s battery value chain.

“Canada and the Ontario province 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,” said its chief executive, Mathias Miedreich.

This includes clean energy, a “unique” availability of resources when compared to the rest of North America and the availability of skilled workers.

Construction of the Umicore plant is expected to begin next year, with operations to begin by the end of 2025.

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