Bécancour, Quebec is fast becoming the place to be to process critical minerals.
After Brazilian nickel miner Vale chose the Seaway port town as the new home for a nickel sulphate project, Toronto’s Electra Battery Materials, an emerging processor in the Temiskaming region, is now eyeballing the shoreside community is the place for its second cobalt refinery.
Electra’s first refinery, located between the town of Cobalt and Temiskaming Shores in northeastern Ontario, is under construction and is slated to begin processing cobalt imported from the Democratic Republic of Congo by the end of this year. It’ll be the first of a four-phase industrial park to make battery-grade materials for the automotive industry.
In a June 22 news release, Electra said they’ve started preliminary discussions with the Quebec government to build a new cobalt refinery that will be integrated into an larger battery material parks in that province.
“Given a forecasted deficit in domestic cobalt sulfate production by 2025, we have received significant interest from industry and government stakeholders to build a second refinery in North America,” said company CEO Trent Mell in a statement.
“The industrial park in Bécancour, Quebec is quickly becoming an important future hub for EV battery materials in North America given its numerous advantages, including a deep-water port, extensive infrastructure, hydro-electric power, strong support from the Quebec government, and a qualified work force. In light of the considerable progress Electra has made towards commissioning its first cobalt sulfate refinery north of Toronto, we are a logical partner for the Bécancour industrial park.”
Bécancour, a town of about 12,800 between Montreal and Quebec City, is being called “Lithium Battery Valley” for its strategic marine and rail logistics hub for companies to manufacture the advanced materials needed for lithium-ion batteries to power the electric vehicle revolution.
The local industrial park has enticed companies like Nouveau Monde Graphite, General Motors, POSCO Chemical, BASF and Vale to set up shop there.
In parallel with its talks with the provincial government, Electra said it will undertake a study to determine annual production requirements for the industrial park, capital costs for the refinery, flow sheet modifications for alternate sources of feed material, permitting requirements, synergies with other battery materials companies in Bécancour, and potential government funding opportunities.
The study is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.
To do this study, Electra has hired David Marshall to be its vice president of engineering, a 31-year industry veteran with 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 as project director for the $1-billion Sudbury Clean AER Project.
“He brings a wealth of experience and has successfully led a number of large, mult-million dollar projects involving hundreds of personnel, contractors and suppliers, ensuring that projects were completed on time and delivered expected internal rates of return,” added Mell.