With an estimated 2.5 percent of the world’s lithium supply, Canada is set to play a major role in the automotive industry’s EV transition. But while the country enjoys rich reserves of lithium and other rare earth materials that can be used to manufacture EV batteries, getting these resources out of the ground can be a lengthy process wrought with political and financial setbacks.
According to a report from Automotive News Canada, the provincial government in Quebec has stepped up to support lithium mining and processing in the province as it looks to take advantage of the country’s mineral reserves. A provincially-owned investment firm called Investissement Quebec, along with private mining company Pallinghurst Group, purchased the Whabouchi mine from financially embattled firm Nemaska Lithium in 2020. A chemicals company called Livent recently bought out Pallinghurst’s stake in the site and is now working alongside Investissement Quebec to get the mine up and running. The two companies also have plans to construct a new lithium processing site in Quebec to support the mine.
The provincial government in Quebec has earmarked C$80 million to get the lithium mining site up and running, AN Canada reports, with Quebec Minister of Economy and Innovation, Pierre Fitzgibbon, saying the mining operation is a critical part of Quebec’s emerging vehicle battery industry. Some of this money will also go toward a lithium processing site. The funding from the province will only be enough to complete construction work on the mine and processing site, Fitzgibbon said, with Nemaska tasked with raising an additional $1.5 billion to get the facilities up and running.
Back in March, GM and Korean chemicals company Posco announced plans to construct a new $500 million battery materials plant in Quebec, which will produce cathode active material for GM’s Ultium lithium-ion batteries. Doug Parks, GM executive vice president, Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain, said that GM and Posco would receive support from the Quebec provincial and Canadian federal governments to set up the new CAM processing site.
“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,” Parks said at the time. “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.”