As governments, large corporations, and established automakers turn their attention to clean energy initiatives, it’s clear the reliance on electric vehicles and battery technology is on the rise. In fact, electric vehicle (EV) sales are expected to increase ten-fold from 3.2 million units in 2020 to an astonishing 32.2 million units in 2030, resulting in an aggressive demand for battery materials as the green economy takes off. However, with the battery material market being led by China controlling over 80 percent of the current market share the need for a domestic supply chain is critical now more than ever.
Among battery supply materials, cobalt and nickel are considered crucial to lithium-ion batteries used in EVs. The battery industry requires materials such as nickel and cobalt to be supplied in a specific chemical form for the production of precursor material converted to cathode active material used in lithium-ion batteries. As the demand for EVs booms in the coming years, companies outside of China that can supply battery materials in this specific chemical form will likely present an attractive opportunity for investors.
Electra Battery Materials (TSXV:ELBM,OTCQX:ELBMF) is an ESG-focused battery materials company advancing the only fully integrated, localized and environmentally-sustainable battery park in North America. Electra is led by a highly experienced management team with decades of experience in the mining and mineral processing industry.
Electra Battery Materials’ battery materials park, the first of its kind in North America, will supply the electric vehicle industry with cobalt and nickel sulfate production, a large-scale lithium-ion battery recycling facility and battery precursor materials production . The company plans to become a leader in the battery supply chain by leveraging vertical integration opportunities in North America.
“Globalization has created an electric vehicle supply chain that is too long, too costly and increasingly unreliable,” said Trent Mell , President & CEO in an interview with INN. “Our automaker clients have a strong interest in greater localization of the upstream supply chain to achieve greater reliability, security of long-term supply, and a lower carbon footprint. With the continent’s rich mineral endowment, the rationale for supplying battery materials through Asia into a growing U.S. EV market is not sustainable. Electra will act as a bridge between North American electric vehicles and a North American source of primary and recycled material, providing a low carbon solution for zero emission vehicles.”
The creation of a nickel sulfate production line directly supports the company’s four-phase growth plan. The company is already in talks with various nickel suppliers to secure the raw materials its future nickel sulfate facility will require, which when combined with its near-term cobalt output, could power 1.5 million electric vehicles each year.
The company’s cornerstone asset, the Cobalt Refinery, is a fully-permitted, modular and environmentally-friendly facility located in Ontario, Canada. The facility will be the world’s second-largest battery-grade cobalt sulfate refinery outside of China.
The Company’s 4-phased approach to market entry allows it to grow its product line offering in line with demand from the evolving EV market, while minimizing risk and managing capital intensity.
At Phase 1, the refinery is expected to be capable of supplying the EV market with 25,000 tonnes of battery-grade cobalt sulfate per annum in 2023, with a planned increase of 30 percent shortly thereafter. The company’s refinery will account for 26 percent of cobalt sulfate production outside of China.
The next stage, Phase 2, Electra will be growing its recycling business initially targeting black mass from consumer electronics and subsequently targeting primary battery scrap material from North American EV cell manufacturers.
Based on industry forecasts, there could be nearly 250,000 tonnes of lithium-ion batteries available for recycling from manufacturing scrap in North America alone by 2025. (see how to footnote Benchmark and Li-cycle)
As the e-mobility and renewable energy industries ramp up in North America, Electra will use hydrometallurgy to recycle black mass back into useable Li-ion battery materials.
The Company’s third phase involves refining nickel from 2024 to 2025, while Phase 4 involves establishing a partnership for a PCAM plant in 2025.
Developing a world-class critical mineral deposit in the USA: The Iron Creek Copper-Cobalt Project
Electra is the owner of one of the only primary copper/cobalt deposits in the United States. Cobalt is a strategic critical mineral identified by the US Government as part of their broader efforts to secure domestic supply chains.
Iron Creek will support the asset necessary for the nation’s development of the US-based a domestic EV materials supply chain.
- Indicated Resource of 2.2 million tonnes at 0.32 percent cobalt equivalent (0.26 percent cobalt and 0.61 percent copper) for 12.3 million pounds of contained cobalt and 29 million pounds of contained copper
- Inferred Resource of 2.7 million tonnes at 0.28 percent cobalt equivalent (0.22 percent cobalt and 0.68 percent copper) for 12.7 million pounds of contained cobalt and 40 million pounds of contained copper
Electra Battery Materials is committed to ESG initiatives with industry-leading credentials. The company’s ESG commitments include recycling, producing a low carbon footprint, fostering traceability and shortening and securing a domestic supply chain. The company’s refinery is expected to produce 51 percent lower greenhouse gases than its Chinese counterparts with higher yields and lower energy requirements.
- Electra Battery Materials Corporation (TSXV:FCC,OTCQX:FTSSF) is an ESG-focused battery materials company focused on building the first battery-grade refinery in North America. The company aims to build the only fully integrated, localized and environmentally-sustainable battery park in North America.
- Electra’s Battery Materials park will supply the electric vehicle industry with cobalt and nickel sulfate production plants, a large-scale lithium-ion battery recycling facility and battery precursor materials production
- The company’s Refinery is a fully-permitted, modular and environmentally-friendly hydrometallurgical facility located in Ontario, Canada. The facility will be the world’s second-largest battery-grade sulfate refinery outside of China.
- The company’s Iron Creek Project offers strong resource growth potential to become an important critical mineral deposit for the U.S’ domestic EV supply chain. Inferred Resource of 2.7 million tonnes at 0.28 percent cobalt equivalent (0.22 percent cobalt and 0.68 percent copper) for an additional 12.7 million pounds of contained cobalt and 40 million pounds of contained copper. The resource estimate used a 0.18 percent cobalt equivalent cutoff grade.Electra Battery Materials is committed to ESG initiatives with industry-leading credentials. The company’s ESG commitments include recycling, producing a low carbon footprint, fostering traceability and shortening and securing a domestic supply chain.
The Electra’s Refinery is a fully-permitted and environmentally-friendly hydrometallurgical facility located in Ontario, Canada. The facility will be the world’s second-largest non-Chinese battery-grade sulfate refinery and the only refinery in North America of its kind. The property is located near exceptional infrastructure with access to talented skilled labour. The Refinery will provide battery-grade cobalt and nickel, recycled battery materials and precursor material through its modular design.
The facility has a 10-year operating history. The company’s lithium-ion battery recycling process involves hydrometallurgical refining of Black Mass which is superior to pyrometallurgy. The process produces higher yields, significantly lower energy intensity and lower greenhouse gas emissions compared to pyrometallurgical facilities. Additionally, the process allows for lithium and graphite recoveries, unlike pyrometallurgy. The refinery is environmentally friendly as it is expected to produce 51 percent lower greenhouse gases than its Chinese counterparts. These low emissions are credited to the hydroelectric electricity grid in the area.
Electra Battery Materials strongly believes that this facility can supply the electric vehicle market in North America with 5,000 tonnes of cobalt contained as early as the fourth quarter of 2022. The company has already begun work on commissioning a lithium-ion battery recycling line in 2021. Electra Battery Materials is currently in the process of testing black mass feeds from recycled batteries and is awaiting the results from test work and engineering studies in the coming weeks.
Iron Creek Project
The Iron Creek project is a copper and cobalt project located in Lemhi County in the state of Idaho in the United States. The project is situated in the most prolific trend of cobalt mineralization in the US. The property spans 1,820 acres of mining patents and exploration claims. The Iron Creek project is located in the same trend as the historic Blackbird mine. The project features significant infrastructure that allows for multiple drills and underground activity. The property is accessible via an all-weather road that connects to a highway.
The property features historic exploration of 600 metres of underground development from 1970 to 1972. The company produced an updated and upgraded NI43-101 compliant resource estimate in 2020. Iron Creek currently has an Indicated Resource of 2.2 million tonnes at 0.32 percent cobalt equivalent (0.26 percent cobalt and 0.61 percent copper) for 12.3 million pounds of contained cobalt and 29 million pounds of contained copper, as well as an Inferred Resource of 2.7 million tonnes at 0.28 percent cobalt equivalent (0.22 percent cobalt and 0.68 percent copper) for an additional 12.7 million pounds of contained cobalt and 40 million pounds of contained copper. The resource estimate used a 0.18 percent cobalt equivalent cutoff grade
In total, Electra Battery Materials has completed the advanced exploration of 29,00 metres of diamond drilling to date. Electra Battery Materials believes the property has strong high-grade resource growth potential given the strike extent and open nature of the mineralization in all directors. The company is currently awaiting drill results on the property expected at the beginning of 2022.
Trent Mell – President, Chief Executive Officer and Director
Trent Mell founded First Cobalt in 2017. Mell has more than 20 years of international business and operational experience. His mining career experience includes mine permitting, development and operations with Barrick Gold, Sherritt International, North American Palladium and AuRico Gold. Mell’s commercial experience includes M&A, joint ventures, offtake contracts and over $2.6 billion in equity and debt financings. He was also the CEO of Falco Resources. Falco Resources is the owner of the Horne project which has mineral reserves of over 6 million gold equivalent ounces. Mell was the president and head of mining of PearTree Securities. In this role, Mell created a mining team and led the firm to become the largest provider of flow-through capital in Canada, placing more than $300 million in capital in their first year.
Mell holds an EMBA from the Kellogg School of Management and Schulich School of Business, an LL.M from Osgoode Hall as well as a B.A., B.C.L. and LL.B. from McGill University.
Ryan Snyder – CPA, CA and Chief Financial Officer
Ryan Snyder has more than a decade of experience in finance. Previously, he spent five years in operations finance with Inmet Mining Corporation. In this role, he led a project to build the life-of-mine model for Cobre Panama which is one of the largest copper development projects in the world. He also led the worldwide annual budgeting and quarterly forecasting processes, oversaw operational financial reporting and analysis and conducted scenario analysis for strategic decision-making. He then joined Enirgi Group Corporation where he oversaw financial planning, asset modelling and corporate governance. Most recently, he was with Primero Mining Corp. Snyder initially began as the director of finance and treasurer of Primero Mining but later became the chief financial officer. At Primero Mining, he was part of the team that negotiated the friendly merger of Primero with First Majestic Silver in 2018. Before entering the mining industry, Synder obtained his Chartered Professional Accountant designation with KPMG LLP.
Mark Trevisiol – P.ENG. and Vice President of Project Development
Mark Trevisiol is a professional engineer with 30 years of experience in mineral processing, mining, capital projects and executive management. He spent over 20 years with Falconbridge Ltd. and Xstrata Nickel which are Glencore predecessor companies. At these companies, he held various roles, including general manager of business development and strategy, general manager of the Sudbury smelter business unit, manager of smelter operations and superintendent of the Kidd Creek Zinc plant. More recently, Trevisiol held several executive leadership and board positions, including CEO positions at Crowflight Minerals and Silver Bear Resources.
During his career, Trevisiol has been responsible for mining and mineral processing for teams of up to 300 people. He was also responsible for operations, safety and environment, custom feed, engineering, maintenance and technology. He has a demonstrated track record of increasing plant efficiency and margins, notably in treating third-party feeds. With Falconbridge Ltd., he championed a new recycling facility primarily designed to handle spent cobalt-based lithium batteries. He has worked across several commodities, including nickel, cobalt, zinc, copper, lithium, gold, and silver.
Trevisiol has an engineering degree from the University of Waterloo.
Michael Insulan – Vice President of Commercial
Michael Insulan has nearly 20 years of experience across oil and gas, bulk commodities and base and minor metals. He has worked for Royal Dutch Shell, CRU and Eurasian Resources Group. Over the past four years, Insulan has been primarily focused on the cobalt market where he has built a reputation as an industry expert.
As vice president of commercial, Insulan will have overall responsibility for marketing the company’s refined cobalt sulfate product to electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers and battery cell makers. He will also be responsible for marketing recycled cobalt, nickel, lithium and other battery materials produced by the company’s Canadian refinery. These marketing efforts are part of a proposed Phase 2 expansion to refine black mass recovered from end-of-life lithium-ion batteries.
Michael holds a Ph.D. in Economics focused on the extractive industries.
Regan P. Watts – Vice President of Corporate Affairs
Regan P. Watts is a seasoned and entrepreneurial executive with more than 20 years of public and private sector experience in corporate communications, strategy, innovation and regulatory and corporate affairs. His experience spans various industries, including infrastructure, transportation, industrial manufacturing, information technology and financial services.
Watts has provided services to Electra Battery Materials since 2019 and has been instrumental in helping communicate the company’s priorities and plans to the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario. In his executive capacity, Watts will add U.S. corporate and regulatory affairs to his responsibilities. Electra Battery Materials has ambitious plans for its Iron Creek copper-cobalt project in Idaho which align with President Biden’s US$2 trillion green energy plan.
Before working with Electra Battery Materials, Watts was a member of IBM Canada’s senior leadership group. At IBM, Watts headed the innovation, citizenship and government affairs team.
Before IBM, he served on the executive committee of Lafarge Canada where he led corporate communications, public and regulatory affairs and corporate social responsibility. Watts had an extensive career in public service, serving in leadership roles in the Government of Canada across four federal departments. From 2006 to 2012, he served at Finance Canada, Transport Canada, Health Canada and Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. In 2012, Watts was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his public service to Canada. Watts is also a published author. Watts holds an MBA from the Ivey Business School at Western University and is president of consultancy Fratton Park Inc.
Christina Lalli – Head of Investor Relations
Christina Lalli has nearly 20 years of investor relations and capital markets experience. Lalli has spent the majority of her career in the mining sector. She has held several senior-level investor relations positions throughout her career. Christina’s contribution has been instrumental in building robust IR programs, establishing new shareholder contacts and developing important relationships within Canada, the U.S. and Europe. Before joining Electra Battery Materials, she worked for Nouveau Monde Graphite, a Canadian natural graphite and battery anode materials company, currently in development. In this role, she acted as a key force in driving the company’s market awareness and share price growth. Before that, she worked for both Osisko Metals and Osisko Mining Corporation in 2003. Osisko Mining Corporation is an important success story in Canadian mining history.
Lalli holds a BA in Psychology and Human Relations as well as a graduate diploma from the Ivey School of Business from the University of Western Ontario. She is a Certified Professional in Investor Relations (CPIR) and a long-time member of the Canadian Investor Relations Institute.
Dr. George Puvvada – Refinery Technical Manager
Dr. George Puvvada is a P.Eng. and PMP with a Ph.D. Puvvada is a highly qualified metallurgist with over 25 years of industrial metallurgical experience. Over his career, Dr. Puvvada built a reputation for developing flowsheets for difficult ores. He also delivered projects for some of the world’s largest mining companies, including Vale, Xstrata and Barrick Gold.
As Electra Battery Materials’ technical manager, Dr. Puvvada will be a key member of the senior leadership team tasked with executing the company’s refinery expansion and commissioning strategy. He will also assist in qualifying the Electra Battery Metal’s cobalt sulfate product for inclusion in Western automaker electric vehicle batteries.
Before joining Electra Battery Materials, Dr. Puvvada was employed with Northern Sun Mining. Dr. Puvvada oversaw all aspects of feed evaluation, metallurgical processing, lab supervision and project development at Northern Sun Mining. He previously spent several years as a metallurgist at the Peko Mine in Australia where he tested, developed and piloted for the recovery of base and precious metals. Dr. Puvvada has also worked with some of the world’s leading metallurgical and engineering firms, including SNC Lavalin, Tetra Tech, Ortech and SGS. Dr. Puvvada holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Mineral Processing from Andhra University in India and a Ph.D. in Extractive Metallurgy from the University of New South Wales in Australia.