Vale and General Motors (GM) have signed a deal for the supply of nickel sulfate to be used in the manufacture of batteries for the automaker’s electric vehicles (EVs).
Nickel sulfate is the chemical compound used in the production of pre-cathode active materials for nickel-based lithium-ion batteries.
Under the agreement, the nickel miner would supply the automaker with the equivalent of 25,000 metric tonnes per year of contained nickel — enough to supply 350,000 EVs annually — from its proposed plant in Bécancour, Que., for use in producing GM’s Ultium battery cathodes.
The cathodes are used in batteries for GM’s series of pickup trucks and SUVs, including the Chevrolet Silverado EV, Blazer EV and Equinox EV, the Cadillac LYRIQ, the GMC Sierra EV, and the GMC HUMMER EV pickup and SUV.
“This is a momentous agreement for Vale Base Metals that brings a key partner in GM into this first-of-its-kind facility for Canada and North America,” Deshnee Naidoo, Vale’s executive vice-president of base metals, said in a Nov. 17 news release.
“The proposed nickel sulfate project would utilize high-purity, low-carbon nickel from our Canadian refineries and is a natural extension for the business, offering diversified sales and a fast entry and anchor point into the North American electric vehicle market.
“We look forward to continuing engagements with the governments of Canada and Quebec on this strategic critical mineral project.”
The companies said deliveries are scheduled to start in the second half of 2026.
Vale completed the prefeasibility study on its proposed Bécancour project last June.
If approved, it would have an annual production capacity to produce 25,000 tonnes of contained nickel into nickel sulfate.
“The project’s final investment decision and schedule is contingent on a range of factors including downstream battery supply chain integration and requirements, as well as board and regulatory approvals,” Vale said at the time.
“GM’s dedicated cross-functional organization — including experts from global purchasing and supply chain, corporate development, legal, finance and treasury — is strictly focused on building a secure, sustainable, scalable and cost-competitive EV supply chain,” said Doug Parks, GM’s executive vice-president of global product development, purchasing and supply chain, in the release.
“Their work has already allowed GM to sign multiple binding agreements to secure the battery raw material to support 1 million units of annual EV capacity in North America in 2025.
“This new agreement with Vale reinforces GM’s leadership in building a secure and sustainable North America EV supply chain and will provide GM with significant supply of high-grade nickel sulfate from a low-carbon source.”
“In addition, Canada continues to play an important role in GM’s all-electric future and the material sourced from Vale will help support EV eligibility for consumer incentives under the new clean energy tax credits in the U.S.,” added Parks.
The companies said they’ve also agreed to study ways to partner on the development of advanced technology and ways to commercialize the recycling of metals.