By Pratima Desai
LONDON (Reuters) - Canada's First Cobalt aims to create North America's first specialist facility for producing electric vehicle battery materials such as cathode chemicals, it said on Sunday, as it announced a name change to Electra Battery Materials.
Automakers are racing to boost their electric vehicle offerings, which need quick and easy access to materials such as cobalt and nickel used to make the lithium-ion rechargeable batteries that power these cars.
Some battery metals, such as nickel and cobalt, are already produced in North America, but the Electra facility could be the first dedicated specifically to EV battery materials.
The company is aiming to produce battery-grade nickel and cobalt and precursor chemicals for the cathode component of the batteries for North America.
Chief Executive Trent Mell expects Electra to be producing cobalt sulphate by the fourth quarter of next year, which is also when its expanded hydrometallurgical battery recycling facility will be producing 5,000 tonnes of cobalt.
"Globalisation has created an electric vehicle supply chain that is too long, too costly and increasingly unreliable," said Mell.
"Our automaker clients have a strong interest in greater localisation of the supply chain to achieve greater reliability, security of long-term supply and a lower carbon footprint."
Electra is in talks to secure nickel for its nickel sulphate facility in 2024-25 which, when combined with its near-term cobalt output, could supply sufficient raw material to build more than 1.5 million electric vehicles a year.
The Biden Administration's 100-day review of critical supply chains said earlier this year that the U.S. government should invest in nickel refining capacity in coordination with its allies.
(Reporting by Pratima Desai; Editing by Jan Harvey)