Electra Battery Materials Corporation provided an update on the construction of its battery-grade cobalt sulfate refinery — the only facility of its kind being built in North America designed to address the onshoring requirements of the electric vehicle battery supply chain.
Electra has in recent weeks received US$5 million in long-lead, critical equipment, including pressure vessels, tanks, and structural steel, needed for the completion of the corporation’s solvent extraction plant and crystallizer circuit.
The equipment, some of which had been ordered at the onset of the construction project in Q2 of 2021 and was expected for delivery by Q4 2022, had been delayed by global supply chain disruptions.
Installation of the equipment delivered at the site will occur as Electra secures its capital funding requirements for the refinery project. Electra’s owner’s team continues to operate the refinery to complete its black mass recycling trial.
The company’s hydrometallurgical complex near Toronto, Canada is fully permitted and has an estimated replacement value of approximately US $200 million. Electra estimates that an additional US $55.7 to $62 million (approximately) is required to complete construction. Management has been working on a largely non-dilutive funding solution with government and industry stakeholders to address the additional capital needs.
Once fully commissioned, the refinery could produce sufficient cobalt for up to 1.5 million EVs annually. On July 24th, 2023 Electra announced that its battery grade cobalt sulfate agreement with LG Energy Solution, a global manufacturer of lithium-ion batteries, had been extended and expanded from initial terms. The agreement now provides for the supply of 19,000 tonnes of cobalt contained in sulfate beginning in 2025. The total will represent up to 80% of Electra’s expected annual production.
“Against the backdrop of our black mass recycling trial and the continued progress of our refinery project, we are focused on addressing our capital requirements and strengthening our relationships with key stakeholders in the broader EV supply chain,” said Trent Mell, Electra’s CEO. “We remain actively engaged with government stakeholders to secure US$10.9 million of previously committed funding. We are also encouraged by recent developments on a larger funding solution to complete construction and commissioning of the refinery.”
Mr. Mell added, “To that end, we continue to advance discussions with a number of potential strategic partners to forge stronger relationships and secure offtake agreements and strategic investments. Among these include our efforts to advance our joint venture with Three Fires Group that is focused on recycling battery waste in Ontario.
“Keys to our progress with Three Fires include discussions on the construction of a shredding facility in Ontario that will provide a direct source of black mass feed to our refinery, identification of potential shredding technology, and site visits to shredding technology and equipment providers. We remain encouraged by Three Fires’ continued commitment of a strategic investment in Electra.”
In June 2021, Electra launched its project to expand and recommission an idled refinery capable of producing 5,000 tonnes of cobalt contained in cobalt sulfate per year. Electra’s refinery, which is located in Temiskaming Shores, Ontario, is a fully permitted facility. Once fully constructed, the refinery has the capacity to expand to 6,500 tonnes of cobalt contained in cobalt sulfate per year. The cobalt refinery is the first stage of a multi-pronged effort to produce battery grade cobalt, nickel and manganese and refine black mass from battery scrap, all within an integrated complex.
The project has been de-risked through the delivery of long lead equipment and by commissioning the legacy refinery operations for a black mass demonstration plant. There remains, however, a significant amount of construction work to complete and commission the solvent extraction plant and the crystallizer circuit.
Pending completion of all its multi-prong stages, Electra’s refinery complex could be the first in North America to integrate the production of critical minerals, including cobalt and nickel sulfate, needed for the electric vehicle battery supply chain and the processing of black mass material designed to recover high value elements found in recycled lithium-ion batteries, including lithium, nickel, cobalt, manganese, graphite, and copper.
As disclosed previously, Electra completed a re-baseline engineering report to identify the refinery’s updated project scope, scheduling, and capital expenditures. This updated re-baseline engineering work was undertaken by the refinery project’s engineering, procurement, and construction management (EPCM) contractor and reviewed by an independent, third-party estimator.
The re-baseline engineering report determined that the total capital costs for completing the refinery project are now estimated at approximately US $113 to $121.8 million, of which approximately US$59.6 million has been capitalized as at the end of Q2 2023.
Discussions are underway with various commercial partners, government agencies and other parties to address the funding shortfall with a primary focus on securing non-dilutive funding. The timeline for completing the refinery project will be contingent on securing the needed capital.
As at September 30, 2023, the Company had a cash balance of approximately C$15.1 million. The company is expected to report its Q3 2023 financial results and performance by November 15th, 2023. Electra will continue to provide updates on the progress of its refinery project and efforts to secure funding.
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Filed Under: Batteries, Technology News