Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government has reached a deal with Umicore, a global materials technology and recycling group, to build a new battery facility in Ontario's Loyalist Township. A car is charged at a charge station for electric vehicles on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, May 1, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Trudeau announces deal for new electric-vehicle battery plant in Ontario

Ottawa has reached a deal with a global materials technology and recycling group to build a new battery facility in Ontario’s Loyalist Township that will supply parts for electric vehicles.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the partnership with Belgium-based Umicore N.V. on Wednesday, saying it would result in a new facility that will provide materials for one million electric vehicles a year.

The plant will create 1,000 jobs while it is being built and hundreds of long-term positions once it is up and running, he said.

“Canada isn’t just going to be a global player in EVs,” Trudeau said in Kingston, Ont. “With this and other announcements we’ve made, we demonstrate that we get to be global leaders.”

Umicore plans to make a $1.5-billion investment to build the cathode and precursor materials plant, the province said, noting that cathodes make up about half of the value of an electric vehicle battery.

Trudeau said such investments are part of a “big bet” that Canada can be a key international player when it comes to electric vehicle supply chains.

“We have been stepping up with big announcements, most of them (in) partnership with the Ontario government, that are covering the entire supply chain,” he said. “People have realized that … Canada is a very exciting place to invest.”

Mathias Miedreich, CEO of Umicore, said three reasons led to choosing Loyalist Township and Ontario for the “gigafactory.”

“The first one is availability of clean energy,” said Miedreich. “This is the true thing we want to do if we want to build an electric vehicle, and that’s (a) check for Canada and also (a) check for Ontario.”

Miedreich said Canada’s “unique” availability of resources when compared to all of North America also made it a desirable choice.

“The third (reason) was the availability of talent, critical talent, and here especially (in) the area (of) Loyalist Township and Kingston,” he said, noting that was the “decisive” factor.

Ontario’s Economic Development Minister Vic Fedeli said the investment was a “historic announcement” and the province noted the plant would be near-carbon-neutral.

“This is … a massive investment for the people of Ontario,” he said.

Premier Doug Ford has previously spoken about wanting to establish Ontario as a leader in each step of the electric vehicle manufacturing process, from the critical minerals needed for the batteries to assembly.

Federal Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne said the plant will fill a gap in the Canadian electric vehicle system by shoring up a key part of the battery-making process.

“The auto sector is spreading across the country now,” said Champagne. “It’s not just concentrated, but now Kingston is going to be part of the auto sector in Canada.”

The province said construction on the Umicore plant is expected to begin next year, with operations currently planned for the end of 2025.