Mining firm Canada Nickel Co Inc. plans to develop a nickel processing plant in Ontario that would cost $1 billion (all figures in USD) and be North America’s largest once completed.
The plant would have capacity to produce more than 80,000 tons of nickel annually, and should begin operations by the start of 2027, the Toronto-based miner said in a Thursday news release.
The company also plans to build a stainless steel and alloy production plant to process nickel and chromium concentrate, which would cost an additional $2 billion, according to Chief Executive Officer Mark Selby.
The plans aim to fill a gap in North America’s electric vehicle supply chain, which broadly lacks the infrastructure to process and refine key materials like nickel, copper and lithium. The vast majority of metals that are extracted from mines in the region are shipped to China for processing, before returning to North America for domestic auto manufacturers.
Canada Nickel’s market capitalization was about $166 million as of close of market Wednesday. The company plans to seek funding from the Canadian and Ontario governments to help build the plants, Selby said.
The price of nickel has undergone an epic downturn in recent months as a barrage of new supply from Indonesia floods the market — stimulated by Chinese investment and major technological breakthroughs. Nickel mines around the world are at risk of closing, while others have asked for state bailouts or bankruptcy.
Selby, whose company is developing a nickel deposit in northern Ontario, said he expects demand for North American nickel to grow as governments and automakers push for domestic sources of battery metals.
“Nickel has always been seen as a strategic metal,” said Selby in an interview. “Given the current state of geopolitics, and the Chinese control of Indonesian resources, becoming solely dependent on Indonesia and China for nickel, I don’t think a lot of end-users and governments here will want that.”
Ontario and the federal government have lured Stellantis and Volkswagen to the province to build multi-billion-dollar electric vehicle battery plants.
Ontario Mining Minister George Pirie says Timmins is poised to become a hub for nickel.
— With files from The Canadian Press