Mercedes-Benz Group is pushing into the Canadian battery materials sector with a new mining partnership and an eye to mineral refining and battery cell production.
The luxury automaker signed a memorandum of understanding Aug. 23 with the Canadian government, agreeing to collaborate with Ottawa on opportunities in the battery supply chain as it scales up electric vehicle assembly and jockeys with competitors for supplies of key metals such as lithium, nickel and cobalt.
“The clock is running, and the demand is huge, so it’s about execution now,” said Markus Schaefer, chief technology officer at the automaker following the signing.
Part of a business delegation accompanying German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on a three-day tour of Canada, Schaefer put pen to paper in Toronto. The trip also had stops in Quebec and Newfoundland. He said meetings with federal, provincial and municipal leaders during the visit showed Canadian governments are aligned on creating a battery ecosystem.
“We felt they’re working hand-in-hand, and I think that’s the best basis to achieve the very, very best result here.”
François-Philippe Champagne, federal minister of innovation, science and industry, said the collaboration deal with Mercedes-Benz — as well as a parallel agreement with Volkswagen — will start a new chapter in relations between Canada and the German automakers.
“It’s going to open the door to future investments.”
Mercedes-Benz’s accord with the federal government includes no defined commitment to Canada, but a separate deal disclosed Aug. 23 marks a concrete step toward Canadian raw materials finding their way into the automaker’s batteries.
The company is currently finalizing a binding agreement with Rock Tech Lithium Inc. for the supply of 10,000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide starting in 2026. The Vancouver-headquartered miner is developing a lithium mine in Beardmore, Ont., about 150 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay, as well as a processing plant in Germany.
Rock Tech CEO Markus Bruegmann said the deal is expected to be firmed up in the next couple of weeks.
'ALL ABOUT PARTNERSHIP'