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GM Canada, BASF Announce EV Component Factories in Bécancour, Quebec

Bécancour, Quebec is set to become a hotspot in Canada’s growing supply chain for electric vehicle components, after two company announcements over a two-day span.

On Saturday, German chemical giant BASF announced it had bought land for an EV battery manufacturing facility in the town, located across the St. Lawrence River from Trois-Rivières, Le Devoir reports. “Acquiring this land was necessary to advance our strategy of expanding our footprint in key regions to better serve our customers,” said Peter Schuhmacher, president of BASF’s Catalysts division.

He said the plant is expected to open in 2025 and produce 100,000 tonnes of CAM per year.

Then on Monday, General Motors and South Korea’s Posco Chemical unveiled a US$400-million deal to produce cathode active materials (CAM), one of the key components of an EV battery, The Canadian Press writes. The two partners said their stand-alone factory will produce CAM for GM’s Ultium battery cells, which will then be manufactured in plants in the United States.

“It is so exciting to see GM Canada and Quebec playing a key role in building the emerging ‘mines to mobility’ EV battery ecosystem in North America,” Scott Bell, president and managing director of GM Canada, said in a news release.

GM said CAM consists of processed nickel, lithium, and other materials, adding that its new plant will ultimately help power electric vehicles such as the Chevrolet Silverado EV and GMC Hummer EV.

CAM represents almost 40% of the cost of every EV battery.

Site preparation and construction are scheduled to begin immediately and will create around 200 jobs.

The announcement comes after GM and Posco agreed in December to form a CAM processing joint venture and build a factory in North America.

This week, the companies said the site will be built to allow for future expansion. In November, Posco announced plans to acquire a 15% stake in Chinese EV battery material producer Inner Mongolia Sinuo New Material Technology Co.

The two partners chose Quebec for the new facility because of several advantages, according to David Paterson, GM Canada’s vice president of corporate and environmental affairs.

“Quebec’s low-greenhouse gas (GHG), low-cost electricity is really important,” he told CP. “In addition to its environmental standards, great logistics links and a well-educated work force are some of the other reasons we chose Quebec.”

Paterson said he was pleased that GM’s first CAM investment is in Canada because of the country’s natural resources, combined with Canada’s desire to do more to process those resources, CP adds.

“Now Canada’s mining industry can jointly work with us to not only mine the commodities in Canada, but also add value to them,” he said. “That will create more jobs and more spinoffs and allow the industry to be a part of this whole integrated North American auto sector.”

GM is also gearing up to launch Canada’s first full electric vehicle assembly plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, later this year.

The news shows that Canada is starting to see the fruit of constant pitching by different levels of government to players around the world, said Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association.

“We are going to see critical mineral extraction and processing, cell manufacturing, cathode and anode investments, as well as electric vehicle program commitments,” he said in an interview.

The main body of this report was first published by The Canadian Press on March 7, 2022.