Regional officials scramble to accommodate growing number of players in the EV supply chain


Local officials are both frightened and excited as they begin making plans to work with Umicore N.V., a multinational circular materials technology company based in Belgium that recently announced a $1.5-billion investment in Loyalist Township to build a battery materials production plant that will create more than 700 jobs in the area.

“This is a game-changer and I’m excited, not just for Umicore,” says Craig Desjardins, director of innovation and partnerships with the City of Kingston. “I find that size to be almost frightening given the number of jobs we’re going to have to find people for, but it’s also supply chain, that’s what excites me, it’s the companies that are going to come here as part of the ecosystem of Umicore alone.” 

This investment supports the province’s vision of building an end-to-end electric vehicle (EV) supply chain and becoming a North American hub for building the cars of the future. The Umicore near-carbon-neutral facility will manufacture cathode active materials and precursor cathode active materials, components that are critical in the production of EV batteries. The investment is part of Ontario’s goal to develop a vertically integrated battery supply chain able to support large-scale EV production in North America.

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“Being at the centre of Canada’s automotive ecosystem base offers critical advantages, such as access to a highly skilled workforce, key infrastructure and access to renewable energy,” said Caroline Jacobs, media relations spokesperson for Umicore.

For example, Kingston’s Li-Cycle, a lithium-ion battery recycling company with a facility in the city’s west end, dovetails with Umicore’s vision.

“With Umicore on the upstream and Li-Cycle at the end of life or new life for materials, it gives us the opportunity for all these companies within the sphere that would surround the spectrum,” said Abdul Razak Jendi, investment manager, sustainable manufacturing with Invest Kingston.

New programs are being developed in Kingston to help ensure that skilled workers are available when Umicore gets started.

“We’re working with Queen’s University to develop the first battery certification program to develop the talent needed,” said Jendi.

According to Mathias Miedreich, CEO of Umicore, the province has everything it takes to establish a sustainable supply chain for battery materials, from Northern Ontario’s mineral sector to EV manufacturing in the south.  

“Once the key customer contracts are in place, this expansion in North America would complete our global rollout of regional supply chains for our automotive and battery cell customers to now three continents,” said Miedreich in a statement announcing the investment. 

Umicore plans to start construction in 2023 on the 350-acre site and expects to begin production by the end of 2025. At full production, the plant will produce annual cathode material volumes sufficient to manufacture batteries for one million battery-electric vehicles. 

Not only is Umicore’s arrival in the region being recognized as another advantage to growing the EV ecosystem in Kingston and area, it builds on what Loyalist Township sees as a period of unprecedented growth.

“This is an important investment for Loyalist and will bring 600 to 700 jobs into the area. We were able to … sell the township to Umicore and are currently in the site plan approval phase,” said Steven Silver, chief administrative officer with the township.

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