(Montreal) Ford and Nemaska Lithium announced on Monday the conclusion of an agreement that will see the American automaker buy lithium products, including lithium hydroxide, for 11 years at the Quebec company’s future plant in Bécancour. , in the Centre-du-Québec region.
The agreement provides for the delivery of up to 13,000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide per year, the two companies said in a joint statement. The lithium produced in Bécancour will be used to produce batteries for Ford’s electric vehicles.
The construction of a new plant in Bécancour is a major project for Nemaska Lithium. The work, which should begin this year and last until 2025, will mobilize around 800 full-time people, according to the company.
Once operational, the plant will employ some 200 workers. Powered by hydroelectricity, it will convert the spodumene concentrate produced at the Whabouchi mine in northern Quebec into lithium hydroxide. This will be the first production plant of this type in Canada.
With Monday’s announcement, Ford becomes Nemaska Lithium’s first customer.
“This long-term partnership with a leader in the automotive industry and in the development of electric vehicles demonstrates the strength of Nemaska Lithium’s project and the quality of the product that we will deliver,” said the chairman of the board. of Nemaska Lithium, Gervais Jacques, in the press release.
In an interview, Nemaska Lithium’s vice-president of finance, Steve Gartner, spoke of a vote of confidence for the solidity of the project and the quality of the product and for the Nemaska teams working to make the project a success.
“We are proud to be part of a North American supply chain that is socially responsible and meets high sustainability standards,” said Mr. Gartner.
He reiterated that it must be one of the lowest carbon spodumene-based lithium operations per unit of production in the world and must use “up to 12 times less water than other processes around the world”.
This new plant in Bécancour serves as a kind of engine for the revival of Nemaska Lithium, which found itself in a situation of insolvency in 2019.
Last summer, the Government of Quebec and its partner Livent announced that they would each invest 80 million in the company’s share capital to continue the studies and preparatory work necessary for the resumption of construction of a mine in Nord-du-Québec and the start of construction of the Bécancour plant.
The Minister of the Economy, Pierre Fitzgibbon, then argued that this project is important for the development of the battery industry for electric vehicles in Quebec.
The Legault government has pledged to invest 300 million in the revival of Nemaska. Of this envelope, 175 million have already been announced.
The recovery project has nothing to do with the first version of the business plan which had caused Investissement Québec to lose 71 million, while the mining company had placed itself safe from its creditors in 2019, had assured the Minister Fitzgibbon. The Quebec state, under the previous Liberal government, had invested $130 million in the company.