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Cobalt refinery construction on track for spring startup

Electra Battery Materials installing plant equipment this fall
Electra refinery construction 4
(Company photo)

Toronto refinery redeveloper Electra Battery Material said it’s making good process and is on schedule in bringing a Temiskaming refinery back to life.

Despite some inflationary hiccups and supply chain issues this year, the company said in a news release that everything’s on track to start up its cobalt processing operation next spring and launch a demonstration-scale “black mass” battery recycling operation sometime.

Electra acquired the mothballed Yukon refinery, situated north of the town of Cobalt, in 2017. The plant is being upgraded and expanded to become the first cobalt refinery in North America. Eventually, Electra wants to build out on the property to create an $800-million battery materials industrial park to supply material to battery manufacturers in the auto industry. 

The company struck a deal last week with South Korean battery maker LG Energy Solution.

Among the project highlights provided in a news release this week is that construction is of a new solvent extraction building, used in the making of cobalt sulfate, is 75 per cent complete. The equipment for that building will be installed by the end of October.

Most of the procurement and detailed engineering is completed.

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Foundations and structural steel work for a crystallizer plant continue and key processing equipment for that building will be installed in early November.

Electra reports that the number of its team at the Temiskaming site now stands at 25 people, consisting of tradespeople, engineers, operators, lab technicians and office support staff.

In a statement, Electra EO Trent Mell is thrilled with the momentum they’re building, especially with their offtake agreement with LG Energy Solution.

"On the heels of our commercial agreement with LG Energy Solution announced last week, we are excited by the continued progress at our refinery and the prospects of our upcoming black mass recycling demonstration plant. 

“Building upon successful metallurgical testing and engineering work, and the receipt and installation of key pieces of equipment, we anticipate launching our battery recycling demonstration plant at the Ontario refinery site this fall."

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