Canada’s Electra Battery Materials has begun preliminary discussions with the Quebec government to build a new cobalt refinery at Bécancour that will integrate with an emerging battery materials park in the province.
"Given a forecasted deficit in domestic cobalt sulphate production by 2025, we have received significant interest from industry and government stakeholders to build a second refinery in North America," said Electra CEO Trent Mell.
“In light of the considerable progress Electra has made towards commissioning its first cobalt sulphate refinery north of Toronto, we are a logical partner for the Bécancour industrial park."
Bécancour is emerging as an important hub for the supply of low-carbon battery materials to the electric vehicle supply chain in North America. To date, the Bécancour industrial park has attracted commitments and investments from global automotive and chemical processing companies to establish facilities to produce precursor cathode active materials (PCAM) and cathode active materials (CAM) essential in the production of lithium-ion batteries. Materials needed for PCAM and CAM production would originate from nickel and cobalt sulphate refineries not yet available in the Bécancour industrial park.
In support of the preliminary discussions the company has undertaken with the government of Québec, Electra will undertake a study to determine yearly production requirements for the industrial park, capital costs for the refinery, flow sheet modifications for alternate sources of feed material, permitting requirements, synergies from integration with other battery material companies in Bécancour, and potential funding opportunities from the federal and provincial levels of government.
Earlier this year, the Canadian government earmarked C$3.8-billion towards the development of a Critical Minerals Strategy. Electra's study is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.
In support of the announcement and the upcoming study, Electra appointed David Marshall as VP for engineering. Marshall is a 31-year industry veteran with extensive experience in engineering studies, project management and project delivery for mineral processing and mining operations. He spent 29 years with Vale in a number of senior project management roles, including project director for the Sudbury Clean AER project, a C$1-billion project with a 1 000-person team aimed at reducing sulphur dioxide and metals particulate emissions from existing operations in Sudbury.
Marshall was also project director for the Copper Cliff Mine South Shaft project, a project aimed at reconditioning and refurbishing existing mine workings to support future operations. Most recently, he was a project manager with BBA Consultants.
“Dave's first project with Electra will be completion of the Quebec study to determine the viability of a battery materials refinery in Bécancour. We look forward to Dave's many contributions to the Electra team,” said Mell.