Cobalt refinery expansion gets $5 million boost from Government of Canada

Ontario Construction News staff writer

The Government of Canada is injecting $5 million into the construction of Electra Battery Materials Corporation’s cobalt refinery in North Cobalt, Nickel Belt MP Marc Serré announced last week.

Funding will support the growth of Electra’s hydrometallurgical cobalt refinery, marking it as the first facility of its kind in North America.

“Canada’s investment in Electra is essential for securing reliable and prosperous electric vehicle value chains. It contributes to sustainable economic growth across the country and aligns with our commitment to building a low-carbon economy for future generations,” said Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources.

When completed, the expanded refinery will have the capacity to produce cobalt for up to 1.5 million electric vehicles annually.

The project aligns with the Canada-U.S. Joint Action Plan for Critical Minerals Collaboration, contributing to the strengthening of the North American supply chain for essential battery minerals.

“Canada has surpassed China as the top jurisdiction in the global battery supply chain, given its strength in raw materials mining and processing,” said Trent Mell, President & CEO, Electra Battery Materials Corporation. “We are grateful for this additional investment as it represents additional validation of our progress and will allow Electra to continue to work toward our goal of producing secure, clean, and ethically sourced materials that are a crucial part of a sustainable future for electric vehicles in Canada.”

electraIn June 2021, Electra launched its project to expand and recommission the idled refinery located in Temiskaming Shores – a fully permitted facility. The cobalt refinery is the first stage of a multi-pronged effort to produce battery grade cobalt, nickel and manganese and refine black mass from battery scrap, all within an integrated complex.

Electra provided a construction update in November 2023.

electraThe project has been de-risked through delivery of long lead equipment and by commissioning the legacy refinery operations for a black mass demonstration plant. There remains, however, a significant amount of construction work to complete and commission the solvent extraction plant and the crystallizer circuit.

Pending completion of all its multiprong stages, Electra’s refinery complex could be the first in North America to integrate the production of critical minerals, including cobalt and nickel sulfate, needed for the electric vehicle battery supply chain and the processing of black mass material designed to recover high value elements found in recycled lithium-ion batteries, including lithium, nickel, cobalt, manganese, graphite, and copper.

“Against the backdrop of our black mass recycling trial and the continued progress of our refinery project, we are focused on addressing our capital requirements and strengthening our relationships with key stakeholders in the broader EV supply chain,” said Trent Mell, Electra’s CEO.  “We remain actively engaged with government stakeholders to secure US$10.9 million of previously committed funding. We are also encouraged by recent developments on a larger funding solution to complete construction and commissioning of the refinery.”

“To that end, we continue to advance discussions with a number of potential strategic partners to forge stronger relationships and secure offtake agreements and strategic investments. Among these include our efforts to advance our joint venture with Three Fires Group that is focused on recycling battery waste in Ontario.


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