Electra Battery Materials announced it has commitments in place for 52 per cent of its US$67-million capital budget to build a refinery in Temiskaming.
In a news release covering the progress at the refinery site, the Toronto company said it expects to reach the 70 per cent mark within the next month.
Despite pandemic restrictions and global events putting pressure on supply chains and development projects, Electra said they remain on budget and construction continues on schedule for the commissioning of a first-stage cobalt refinery in northeastern Ontario late this year.
The company said footing and foundations for a new solvent extraction building were recently completed. The first modules for this structure are expected to arrive within weeks.
In other infrastructure developments, Pedersen Construction landed the contract to install a 2.8-kilometre buried pipeline to carry water from a pumphouse at Lake Temiskaming to the refinery. The project will be carried out in the coming months.
The company also mentioned it’s running a trial of its “black mass” treatment process in the third quarter of this year. It’s part of the battery recycling operation Electra wants to incorporate into its proposed battery materials industrial park. They want to test the effectiveness of their proprietary process to recover lithium, nickel, cobalt, copper and graphite from the discarded lithium batteries to be processed in Temiskaming.
The equipment for a recycling demonstration plant has been ordered
The construction of a commercial recycling plant begins in 2023, soon after the start of the cobalt processing either late this year or early next year.
The first customer for the nickel and cobalt recovered from the recycling circuit is Glencore. The mining giant signed an off-take agreement with Electra for 2023-2024. Electra said discussions are ongoing with various parties to off-take the recovered lithium, copper and graphite.
Electra is on a hiring spree to staff up the refinery in time for the cobalt processing circuit's commissioning later this year.
But there’s also movement on the senior management and operational level.
Chief financial officer Ryan Snyder is leaving at month’s end to take a job with a precious metals company.
Zoran Jankovic is joining the refinery team as its process and lab superintendent. Renata Cardoso has come aboard to serve as vice-president of sustainability and low carbon. Other hires include an electrical and instrumentation technician and a human resources coordinator.