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Electra inks cobalt supply agreement for Temiskaming refinery

Luxembourg multinational Eurasian Resources Group to provide plant feed from Democratic Republic of Congo starting in 2026
Electra Battery Materials' cobalt refinery under construction in the Temiskaming region (Company photo)

Electra Battery Materials has struck a deal to secure a supply of “ethically sourced” cobalt from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to feed its refinery project in Temiskaming.

The Toronto company announced it’s signed a binding letter of intent with Eurasian Resources Group (ERG), considered a global leader in the metal, to ship concentrated cobalt from its Metalkol operation in the African country to Electra’s still-to-be-completed facility in northeastern Ontario 

Beginning in 2026, the three-year deal will provide for the delivery of 3,000 tonnes a year of cobalt hydroxide to Electra’s plant, located between the town of Cobalt and Temiskaming Shores. The material will be converted into cobalt sulfate, a material used in the manufacturing of batteries for the electric vehicle industry.

In a news release, Electra said this feed material will fill all of the refinery’s annual capacity.

While the DRC has a far-from-stellar reputation for its controversial, dangerous and environmentally toxic artisanal mining practices, Electra insists ERG is a responsible miner and processor. 

The Luxembourg-based multinational is a founding member of the Global Battery Alliance and a champion of other initiatives dedicated to ensuring there’s an ethical and sustainable supply chain to feed the battery and electric vehicle sector. 

“Partnering with a recognized leader in sustainable mining practices is essential for Electra to produce secure, clean, and ethically sourced battery materials,” said Electra’s CEO, Trent Mell, in the release.

“We are very proud to have ERG, one of the best cobalt hydroxide suppliers in the world, as a partner.”

In a statement, ERG CEO Benedikt Sobotka said his company is a “responsible global player” in support of the green energy revolution.

“Electra was one of the first companies to achieve localization of the upstream supply chain, supporting the industry’s move towards an entirely integrated battery supply model and putting battery metals at the core of industry's related efforts.”

Electra is out to achieve a first in the North American battery metals space: become the first cobalt refiner on the continent. The Toronto developer has been working on the project for three years and has grander ambitions of establishing a critical minerals refinery industrial park on the site, processing and recycling nickel, manganese and other battery metals.

While Electra has checked off the box in securing a cobalt supplier and already has a buyer under contract with South Korean battery maker LG Energy Solution in the fold, it’s still struggling to raise US$60 million to finish the installation of refinery equipment in Temiskaming.

The cobalt price has been struggling and retail investment in mining ventures has been scarce. Last February, Ottawa did provide $5 million to start a resumption in construction of the plant.

Construction completion timelines are in flux, pending the arrival of a funding package, but Electra management has previously said it would take a year to finish the project.

In the release, Electra provided no news on that front, but said it is collaborating with ERG to work on Electra’s plan to build a second cobalt refinery in Bécancour, Que., an emerging critical minerals processing park on the St. Lawrence.