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By Shane Lasley
Metal Tech News 

GM looks to Quebec for cathode plant

Sees Canada as an important part of EV metals supply chain Metal Tech News – March 9, 2022

 

Last updated 3/8/2022 at 2:55pm

General Motors GM Canada EV electrical vehicle supply chain Ultium plant cathode

General Motors

The new facility in Bécancour, Quebec, will produce cathode active material for Ultium batteries powering GMC HUMMERs and other electric vehicles to be produced by GM.

Adding to a growing list of deals to source the materials and components needed for its vision to get everybody in on its transition to an all-electric future, General Motors is working with POSCO Chemical to develop a roughly $400 million plant in Quebec to produce cathode active material for Ultium batteries that will power GM electric vehicles such as the Chevrolet Silverado EV, GMC HUMMER EV, and Cadillac LYRIQ.

Planning to have the capacity to build 1 million electric cars and trucks in North America by 2025, GM has taken large strides in establishing a new supply chain that ensures that the majority of EV components, by value, be sustainably sourced, processed or manufactured in North America.

"GM and our supplier partners are creating a new, more secure and more sustainable ecosystem for EVs, built on a foundation of North American resources, technology and manufacturing expertise," said Doug Parks, GM executive vice president, global product development, purchasing and supply chain. "Canada is playing an important role in our all-electric future, and we are grateful for the strong support we have received from local, provincial and national officials to grow a North American-focused EV value chain."

Along with Canada's rich mineral resources and abundant hydroelectricity, this support led to the decision to select Bécancour, Quebec, as the locale for the plant that will produce cathode active material that is made from nickel, lithium, and other processed materials that make up about 40% of the cost of a battery cell.

"It is so exciting to see GM Canada and Quebec playing a key role in building the emerging 'mines to mobility' EV battery ecosystem in North America," said GM Canada President and Managing Director Scott Bell. "With this new processing facility in Bécancour, GM will help lead the EV battery supply chain while also launching Canada's first full EV manufacturing plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, later this year."

While not mentioned by GM, Bécancour is also home to a coated spherical purified graphite production facility being developed by Nouveau Monde Graphite Inc.

While cathodes of today's lithium-ion batteries for EVs are typically some mixture of lithium, nickel, cobalt, and manganese, the anode side of the battery is usually filled with coated spherical purified graphite.

With its graphite to be mined in Quebec with electric mining equipment being developed by Caterpillar and upgraded to anode materials with hydroelectricity, the low-carbon spherical graphite Nouveau Monde will be producing in Bécancour is expected to be a premium anode material for EV manufacturers.

Now, with the building of the GM-POSCO Chemical cathode plant, Bécancour will host facilities that produce the two main ingredients for lithium-ion batteries.

Construction of the Bécancour processing facility, which will be developed and operated under a joint venture that is majority-owned by POSCO Chemical, is already underway.

"POSCO Chemical is set to expand battery material supplying capability across North America through establishing a cathode material plant in Canada," said POSCO Chemical CEO Min Kyung-Zoon. "We will lead the successful transition to the EV era by further strengthening the strategic partnership with GM and securing a production line with world-class technological competitiveness."

For GM, this establishment of a cathode active materials hub in the same town as a graphite anode facility is part of a series of actions taken over the past year to create an all-new and secure EV supply chain for the Detroit automaker.

Some of the other deals GM has made on this front include:

A strategic partnership with Controlled Thermal Resources to secure lithium produced at the Hell's Kitchen geothermal brine project in California.

General Motors GM Canada EV electrical vehicle supply chain Ultium plant cathode

General Motors

A partnership with GE Renewable Energy to develop a value chain for the powerful rare earth magnets that go into Ultium motors.

An agreement to buy rare earth materials and magnets to be produced at a facility MP Materials Corp. is building in Fort Worth, Texas.

A partnership with Germany-based VAC, the largest producer of permanent magnets in the Western Hemisphere, to build a plant in the U.S. that will produce magnets for GM's Ultium platform.

"All of these agreements reflect GM's commitment to sourcing low-carbon footprint, ESG-friendly, secure and cost-competitive materials," said Shilpan Amin, GM vice president of global purchasing and supply chain.

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]
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