Advertisement

New mineral processing plants touted as 'missing link' for Ontario's EV industry

Premier Doug Ford's government is trying to position Ontario as a start-to-finish location for electric vehicle manufacturing, from mining the materials for EV batteries, forging the steel for the vehicle bodies, to final assembly. (Tara Walton/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Premier Doug Ford's government is trying to position Ontario as a start-to-finish location for electric vehicle manufacturing, from mining the materials for EV batteries, forging the steel for the vehicle bodies, to final assembly. (Tara Walton/The Canadian Press - image credit)

A Canadian mining company will announce plans Thursday for two new processing facilities that its CEO says will provide the "missing link" in Ontario's plans for building a full-fledged electric vehicle industry.

Canada Nickel Co. intends to develop a nickel processing plant as well as a stainless-steel and alloy production facility in the region of Timmins, its officials told CBC News ahead of the announcement.

EV batteries can contain 80 per cent or more nickel, making the metal a key component for the growing industry. 

"We're going to see nickel demand double or triple over the next 10 years as we gear up battery production here in North America," said Mark Selby, chief executive of Canada Nickel, in an interview with CBC News.

Premier Doug Ford's government is trying to position Ontario as a start-to-finish location for electric vehicle manufacturing, from mining the materials for EV batteries, forging the steel for the vehicle bodies, to final assembly.

The provincial and federal government are combining to pour billions of dollars into production incentives for EV battery plants located in southern Ontario, which could be fed by minerals from northern Ontario.

The City of Timmins is under a state of emergency. The Porcupine Health Unit says there are 29 positive cases of COVID-19 within its catchment area, including two fatalities.
The City of Timmins is under a state of emergency. The Porcupine Health Unit says there are 29 positive cases of COVID-19 within its catchment area, including two fatalities.

Canada Nickel Company says it is considering several possible locations near Timmins for its two new mineral processing plants and expects the nickel processing facility to begin production by 2027. (Pierre-Mathieu Tremblay/Radio-Canada)

Selby says his company's mineral processing plants will be crucial to the EV supply chain in the province.

"The key piece that's missing is this first-stage conversion, after you take the products from the mine and then turn them into a usable product," he said. "Being able to provide that processing capacity that provides that missing link is vitally important."

Ontario's Minister of Mines George Pirie calls the plan a tremendous opportunity that takes advantage of the province's mineral resources.

"It speaks to what we believe in, in Ontario, securing the supply chain and doing it a fashion that's zero carbon footprint," Pirie said in an interview.

Canada Nickel says all carbon emissions from both plants will be captured and stored in the tailings of its planned Crawford mine, north of Timmins.

DRESDEN, GERMANY - JUNE 08: Batteries destined for Volkswagen ID.3 electric cars stand stacked at the "Gläserne Manufaktur" ("Glass Manufactory") production facility on June 08, 2021 in Dresden, Germany. The Dresden plant is currently churning out 35 ID.3 cars per day. The ID.3 and ID.4 cars are also produced at VW's Zwickau plat located in the same region.  (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Batteries destined for Volkswagen ID. Three electric cars stand stacked at a production facility in Dresden, Germany. Volkswagen is building a major EV battery plant in southwestern Ontario. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Ontario recently moved to allow underground carbon capture, a way of fighting climate change by trapping greenhouse gas emissions instead of releasing them into the atmosphere.

Mining industry customers want products that are produced with as little carbon emissions as possible, says Selby.

"Being able to deliver a zero-carbon product both from the mine and then through the first stage of processing is a massive advantage," he said.

In a news release, Canada Nickel says it is considering several possible locations near Timmins for the new plants and expects the nickel processing facility to begin production by 2027.

The company says the nickel plant will grow to have the capacity to process more than 80,000 tonnes annually, which would make it the largest nickel processing facility in North America.