GM battery materials investment in Quebec to top  billion

General Motors and South Korea’s Posco Future M said they will invest more to expand the production capacity at their chemical battery materials facility in Canada, taking their estimated total investment in the plant to over US$1 billion.

The companies said on June 2 the new investment in their Ultium CAM plant, expected to start operating in 2025, will be used to set up additional facilities for local on-site processing of critical minerals used in electric vehicle (EV) batteries.

The announcement comes less than a week after the two initially said it would be a C$600-million facility in Becancour, Que. The Quebec and federal governments are kicking in C$150 million each.

It will produce cathode active material (CAM) for EV batteries. CAM includes components such as processed nickel, lithium and other materials that make up about 40 per cent of the cost of a battery. Cathodes are also the most complex and costly chemical component of an electric vehicle battery.

The companies had invested about US$327 million in the plant last year, according to media reports.

The latest investment in capacity is expected to support GM’s target to build 1 million EVs in North America by 2025 as major automakers push to make them more accessible to consumers and eventually establish cost parity with internal combustible engines.

In April, GM also partnered with Samsung SDI and the companies said they would invest over $3 billion to build an EV battery manufacturing plant in the United States.

GM-POSCO’s Ultium CAM, a joint venture established last year, will support production of about 360,000 Chevrolet, Cadillac, GMC, Buick and BrightDrop vehicles annually between 2025-2030 in North America.

“We are experiencing rapid growth of the EV battery materials market across North America. I believe our joint venture will fortify its position in the secondary battery material industry with this proactive decision to increase CAM production and bring CAM production to North America,” Kim Joon -Hyung, president, Posco Future M, said in a statement. “POSCO Future M’s advanced technology and experience is supported by our expanding partnership with GM.”

— With files from Greg Layson of Automotive News Canada