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By Shane Lasley
Metal Tech News 

Talon joins Electra battery park vision

Will collaborate on assessing a battery-grade nickel facility Metal Tech News - February 25, 2022


Last updated 3/21/2022 at 9:58am

Electra Battery Materials ecopark lithium nickel cobalt North American supply

Electra Battery Materials Corp.

This cobalt refinery in Ontario is the centerpiece of Electra's vision of developing an eco-industrial park able to supply enough battery materials for 1.5 million EVs per year.

Intrigued by Electra Battery Materials Corp.'s vision of developing a hydroelectric-powered battery materials park in Ontario, Talon Metals Corp. has joined a partnership that will investigate the potential of using this emerging Canadian facility to upgrade nickel produced at its coming Tamarack Mine in Minnesota into the battery-grade nickel sulfate needed for the lithium-ion batteries powering electric vehicles.

This partnership, which also includes the Ontario government and Glencore plc, will collaborate on engineering, permitting, socio-economic and cost studies associated with the construction of a nickel sulfate and battery precursor cathode active materials plant adjacent to Electra's cobalt refinery and battery materials recycling plant.

"We are excited to partner with the Government of Ontario, Glencore, and Talon on this Battery Materials Park project," said Electra Battery Materials CEO Trent Mell. "Ontario is home to North America's only battery grade cobalt refinery, an abundance of nickel and clean hydroelectric power. Together we can leverage Electra's existing footprint and the Government of Ontario's ambitions to build a world class battery supply chain in the province."

Electra's plans to develop an eco-industrial park capable of supplying enough battery materials for 1.5 million EVs per year is centered on its First Cobalt refinery, a hydrometallurgical facility that previously operated in Ontario for a decade.

Toward this objective, the company has steadily been upgrading this refinery into a facility capable of producing 25,000 metric tons of battery-grade cobalt sulfate per year, which will account for more than 25% of this important lithium-ion battery ingredient produced outside of China.

In parallel, Electra is adding a circuit to the hydrometallurgical facility that will recycle lithium, nickel, cobalt, copper, and graphite from spent lithium-ion batteries.

Both the upgraded and expanded cobalt refinery and recycling circuit are expected to begin commissioning before the end of this year, and commercial production is expected by the onset of 2023.

Situated less than 400 miles away from Great Lakes manufacturing towns such as Detroit and Buffalo, Electra's Ontario refinery has garnered strong interest from battery and automotive manufacturers seeking a secure and sustainable supply of this oft controversial battery metal.

The same companies, however, are also clamoring for battery-grade nickel sulfate and other inputs into the lithium-ion battery supply chain.

Seeing an opportunity to help fill this demand, Electra began to investigate the potential of developing an integrated battery park around its refinery that also produces battery-grade nickel sulfate, as well as lithium, graphite, and other battery materials from recycled lithium-ion batteries.

Modeled after eco-parks in Finland, the industrial complex envisioned by Electra would leverage the Ontario hydropower already delivered to the site and the synergies offered by multiple product streams to provide a low-carbon and North American supply of key inputs to the EV revolution.

Talon's Tamarack Mine project, which is only about 800 miles to the west, is an ideally located source of nickel for the battery park. And, thanks to innovative carbon dioxide storage technology being considered for the coming mine, the nickel from Tamarack is expected to have the added benefit of an already reduced CO2 footprint.

More information on the carbon capture technology being developed for Tamarack can be found at DOE funds carbon antimining at Tamarack in the February 23, 2022 edition of Metal Tech News.

Seeing the potential environmental and economic benefits of upgrading this nickel at a relatively nearby facility powered by hydro, Talon has joined a partnership focused on establishing a nickel sulfate plant at what would be part of North America's first integrated, localized, and environmentally sustainable battery materials park for the EV market.

Toward this objective, the partnership is carrying out a C$700,000 study – C$250,000 each from Electra and the Ontario government, and C$100,000 from each Talon and Glencore – to assess the technical, financial, and permitting requirements for developing North America's first battery-grade nickel sulfate facility.

"Partnering with Glencore and Talon on this study provides a clear path towards subsequent implementation of the Battery Materials Park project," said Michael Insulan, vice president, commercial at Electra Battery Materials. "Glencore's position as a global powerhouse in the battery materials sector provides the possibility for immediate raw material feed for the proposed nickel sulfate plant whereas Talon's nearby Tamarack project is well positioned to become one of the most important nickel suppliers in the western hemisphere."

North American-produced nickel sulfate, especially at a facility powered by hydroelectricity, is expected to have a much smaller carbon footprint than elsewhere in the world.

An Electra-commission study carried out by global commodities analyst CRU found that carbon emissions from a Chinese nickel sulfate operation relying on Indonesian raw material feed would be up to three times higher than producing the battery material in Canada.

"There has been insufficient scrutiny of the nickel supply chain, particularly the very high carbon footprint associated with producing battery grade nickel from nickel laterite deposits but that is starting to change," said Mell. "The North American alternative that we are proposing is true to the mission of zero-emission vehicles to lower global greenhouse gases."

critical minerals Canada Ontario Talon Metals Tamarack Finland Glencore EV

Electra Battery Materials Corp.

A rendering of the envisioned Electra Battery Materials Park complete with cobalt refinery, nickel sulfate facility, battery materials recycling circuit, and cathode materials plant.

The CRU report also highlights the imminent need for North American cobalt sulfate, nickel sulfate and precursor capacity to keep pace with the rapid expansion of lithium-ion battery manufacturing in the U.S. and Canada.

"It is essential for a low-carbon future that we process these materials to battery grade specification in North America," said Insulan.

The final step of Electra's battery materials park vision is to establish a plant that could incorporate the nickel and cobalt sulfate into cathode precursor materials for lithium-ion batteries.

Electra says it is already in discussion with several precursor cathode active materials manufacturers in Europe, Japan, and Korea, several of which are assessing expansion opportunities in North America.

Further details on Electra's four-phase battery materials park project can be read at Evolution of Electra Battery Materials in the November 10, 2021 edition of Metal Tech News.

Author Bio

Shane Lasley, Metal Tech News

With more than 14 years of covering mining, Shane is renowned for his insights and and in-depth analysis of mining, mineral exploration and technology metals.

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 907-726-1095


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