Electra Battery Materials announces commitment for strategic investment from first nation-owned Three Fires Group

Mike Edwards   

News battery materials park black mass cobalt copper Electra Ba graphite hydrometallurgical investment lithium manganese nickel refinery Three Fires Group

Electra Battery Materials Corp. of Toronto has received a commitment for a strategic investment from the Three Fires Group Inc. in support of advancing the company’s battery materials park north of Toronto and accelerating its battery recycling strategy in North America.

The Three Fires investment is expected to form part of a larger financing by Electra totalling up to $20 million.

Electra and Three Fires had previously announced plans to form a joint venture focused on the recycling of lithium-ion battery waste in Ontario supported by Electra’s propriety black mass processing capabilities that recover high value elements.

Under the joint venture, Electra and Three Fires will collaborate to source and process lithium-ion battery waste generated by manufacturers of current and future battery cells, electric vehicles, and energy storage systems.

The waste will be processed at a primary recycling facility to be located in southern Ontario to produce black mass material that will be further refined using Electra’s proprietary hydrometallurgical process at its refinery complex north of Toronto to recover high value elements, including lithium, nickel, cobalt, copper, manganese, and graphite. In addition to the black mass, the primary recycling facility will recover aluminum, copper, and plastics, which will also be recycled.

Electra previously released highlights of an internal desktop study that evaluated the potential economics of developing a standalone black mass process plant within its refinery complex capable of processing 2,500 tonnes of black mass material per annum. The Phase 1 facility could be scaled over time as the market for battery recycling expands. Additional details of Electra’s scoping study can be found in the company’s news release issued on May 11, 2023.

The company’s refinery complex is located in northern Ontario, where the electricity grid mostly runs on renewable energy sources, making Electra a low carbon emitter. Combined with its hydrometallurgical process, Electra’s recycling plant is estimated to be five times less carbon intensive than a comparable plant using a pyrometallurgical process in a jurisdiction with an electricity grid similar to China’s. Moreover, Electra’s process generates less waste and enables the recovery of lithium and other by-products that pyrometallurgical processes cannot recover.

Several electric vehicle facilities are moving forward across the treaty areas of the Three Fires Confederacy in southwestern Ontario, including recent announcements by the Volkswagen Group, LG-Stellantis, Toyota and GM CAMI. In parallel, southwestern Ontario is seeing dozens of proposals for transmission grid connected battery energy storage systems.

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