In another important milestone towards its goal of developing a sustainable battery supply chain in North America, Electra Battery Materials (TSXV: ELBM) (OTC: ELBMF), the company formerly known as First Cobalt, has obtained final approval of the updated closure plan for its hydrometallurgical facility in Ontario.
Electra's business strategy is to produce sufficient battery material on an annual basis to supply 1.5 million electric vehicles. To execute this plan, the company aims to restart the hydrometallurgical facility and integrate the refinery into a larger battery materials park.
The facility, which would one of two major cobalt sulphate refineries outside China, is the first part in Electra's four-phase battery materials park project. In the coming years, Electra intends to build further processing capacity for nickel sulphate, recycling of primary and secondary battery scrap materials and precursor production.
Electra has been working within the existing refinery footprint to recommission electrical, mechanical and instrumentation equipment. Last month, the company received its industrial sewage works permit for the facility and subsequently filed its final closure plan for its refinery expansion project.
Approval of the closure plan now keeps the project on track for commissioning in December 2022. Prior to that, in mid-2022, Electra intends to perform bulk sample testing of black mass from recycled lithium batteries, based on extensive test work conducted over an 18-month period. Commercialization of the battery recycling plant is expected in 2023.
This approval enables the company to accelerate new construction and industrial activities at site. The pouring of concrete pads for the solvent extraction plant is expected to begin within the next few weeks, with the building shell completed by early summer, Electra said.
In February, Electra launched a battery materials park study in partnership with Glencore, Talon Metals, and the governments of Canada and Ontario. The group is collaborating on engineering, permitting, socio-economic and cost studies associated with the construction of a nickel sulfate plant as well as a battery precursor cathode active materials (PCAM) plant adjacent to Electra's cobalt refinery and recycling plant.
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