Canada Nickel looking for government funding, partners to build plants

Breadcrumb Trail Links Mining Commodities Would be North America’s largest…


Would be North America’s largest once completed

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Toronto-based Canada Nickel Company Inc. says it plans to build North America’s largest nickel processing facility, along with a steel production plant, in northeastern Ontario to help fill “a key gap” in the electric-vehicle supply chain.

The mining company, which has a market cap of around $224 million, will need at least US$1 billion to complete the project and hopes to get funding from the governments of Ontario, Canada and the United States Department of Defense. It is also looking for companies to partner the project.

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“We are short in nickel mines and we are even shorter in new processing capacities,” Mark Selby, Canada Nickel’s chief executive, said. “Nickel demand in North America is set to double and nearly triple in the next 10 years, and there’s effectively no new processing plants scheduled to come online. This is a critical gap.”

Canada Nickel is currently developing a nickel project in Timmins, Ont., which it said will start producing the commodity from 2027 onwards. The raw nickel produced there will be processed in the new facilities it is planning. The refined products can then be used to manufacture stainless steel and batteries for electric vehicles, Selby said.

Although the prices of metals such as nickel and lithium have slumped in the past year, analysts expect them to rise again in the near future because they are considered key in the energy transition away from fossil fuels. Countries around the world have agreed to gradually lower their carbon emissions and the transition is a part of that plan.

The governments of Canada, Ontario and Quebec have already promised to spend more than $30 billion in incentives to build three battery plants in the next few years as part of  plans to transition away from fossil fuels.

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For example, the production subsidy announced for a Northvolt AB plant in Quebec has an an overall cap of $4.6 billion, according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, with the federal government covering two-thirds, or $3.1 billion, of that while the province will provide one-third, or $1.5 billion.

Selby expects to get some “pretty significant support from all levels of government” to move the company’s project forward.

A spokesperson from Ontario’s mining ministry said Canada Nickel hasn’t officially asked for funding, but the province is “definitely willing to explore any proposals” that align with its goal of building a supply chain to power electric vehicles.

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The nickel and steel plants are expected to go online in Timmins in 2027. However, there’s a long road ahead. The company is yet to select a site or a conduct a feasibility study for the project.

“Timmins is poised to become a hub for the clean nickel we need to build the supply chain for electric vehicles,” Ontario’s Minister of Mines George Pirie said. “This is another great example of a company committed to working in the Timmins region to create opportunity and local benefits for the people and our economy.”

• Email: nkarim@postmedia.com

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