Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Wednesday that Ottawa and Ontario have signed a deal with Umicore, a global metals refiner, to build a new battery materials facility in the province’s Loyalist Township.
Speaking at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., the prime minister said the facility will supply materials for one million electric vehicles a year.
Umicore, a multinational corporation based in Belgium, will transform metals such as nickel, cobalt and lithium into cathode active battery materials (CAM) at the new eastern Ontario site — materials that are critical to producing lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles.
Trudeau said the new plant will create 1,000 jobs while it is being built and hundreds of long-term positions once it is up and running.
He said the government and industry investments are part of a “big bet” that Canada can be a key international player in electric-vehicle supply chains.
WATCH: Trudeau announces deal with Umicore to build EV battery plant in Ontario
“Today’s announcement is about creating jobs, cutting pollution and building a stronger, cleaner economy for Canadians. Umicore’s intention to establish its new facility in Loyalist Township is another major step forward as we make Canada a global leader in producing electric vehicles, from to manufacturing,” Trudeau said.
Ontario’s Economic Development Minister Vic Fedeli said the $1.5-billion investment will build the first industrial-scale manufacturing plant of its kind in North America.
“With recent success attracting major investments to the province, our government is staking Ontario’s claim to developing and building the batteries that will power vehicles of the future,” Fedeli said.
Federal Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said the plant will fill a gap in the Canadian electric-vehicle system by shoring up a key part of the battery-making process.
“The auto sector is spreading across the country now,” Champagne said. “It’s not just concentrated, but now Kingston is going to be part of the auto sector in Canada.”
The plant will be built with some financial support from both levels of government but a dollar figure wasn’t immediately available.
Ottawa and the province have plowed hundreds of millions of dollars in public money into similar projects in recent months.
In a statement, Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who was not at Wednesday’s announcement, said these multi-billion dollar investments are paying off, helping the province to “strengthen its position as a North American auto manufacturing powerhouse.”
Umicore said it has signed a memorandum of understanding with Ottawa, which will allow it to tap funds from the federal Strategic Innovation Fund to help offset some of the construction costs associated with building a plant of this size.
The company already has penned an agreement with Loyalist Township for a 140-hectare parcel of land that eventually will house the plant.
The company will start on construction in 2023, with the site expected to be fully operational by the end of 2025 — pumping out the materials that will help drive the global transition from cars and trucks powered by internal combustion engines to electric vehicles.
“We are most grateful to the Canadian and Ontario governments for their support and for their readiness to co-fund this planned project. The facility will help Canada and Umicore in their shared objective of achieving a carbon-neutral battery supply chain,” said Mathias Miedreich, CEO of Umicore.
Carmakers General Motors, Honda and Stellantis, the company that makes Jeep and Chrysler vehicles, have also recently promised to spend billions of dollars in the coming years to build battery and electric vehicle manufacturing facilities in Ontario — investments that have breathed new life into Canada’s long -stagnant auto sector.
According to government data, Canada’s auto sector supports nearly 500,000 workers, contributes $16 billion annually to the country’s gross domestic product and is one of the largest export industries.