A Vancouver-based miner advancing a nickel project in central British Columbia has signed a non-binding development deal with the battery joint venture of Toyota Motor Co. and Panasonic Corp.
FPX Nickel Corp. and Prime Planet Energy & Solutions inked a memorandum of understanding that could open the door to future investment and supply deals in Ottawa Sept. 21. The Japan Organization for Metals and Energy Security, a Japan government affiliate focused on strengthening the country’s industrial based, also signed.
The agreement points to an important future role for FPX Nickel’s Baptiste Project northwest of Prince George, B.C., said company CEO Martin Turenne.
“This MOU demonstrates the strategic nature of the Baptiste Project and its potential to produce an ideal nickel feedstock for the battery supply chain,” he said in a release.
Prime Planet, which makes batteries for certain models of the Toyota bZ4X and has plans to scale up battery output through the 2020s, said the agreement with the Canadian miner will help it tap into cleaner sources of nickel.
“By combining FPX's low-carbon nickel mining process and PPES' battery knowhow and technology, we are sure to realize further decarbonization and cost reductions in this field,” Prime Planet CEO Hiroaki Koda said in a release.
The corporate agreement was signed alongside a separate intergovernmental deal as Japan industry minister Yasutoshi Nishimura visited Ottawa. As part of that accord, the Canadian and Japanese governments pledged to collaborate to strengthen their battery supply chains.
While the agreement between FPX Nickel and the pair of Japan industrial giants includes no firm commitments, it will see the companies explore building a vertically integrated supply chain with nickel produced at the Baptiste Project. This could include nickel sulfate and cathode active materials production for Prime Planet’s batteries, the companies said.
Potential funding to help FPX Nickel advance the British Columbia project is also possible.
According to the miner’s recently completed pre-feasibility study, the Baptiste Project could produce at average of 59,100 tonnes of nickel per year over a 29-year mine life.
But while early development work has been under way for years, production is unlikely before the end of the decade. The company’s most recent timeline shows it aims to start environmental assessment work next year. Construction could begin by 2028 and first nickel production by the end of 2030.
Despite the long lead time, demand for nickel is forecast to continue growing at an accelerated clip over the next decade. As with other battery metals, increased rates of electric vehicle adoption are the primary driver.