■ C$1.2 billion-plant to be operational in 2026; Canada to support C$644 million
■ 3 partners strengthen supply chain in North America from materials to EVs
SK On announced today it will establish a cathode manufacturing facility in Canada with global major automaker Ford Motor and cathode producer EcoPro BM as they joined a move to strengthen a value chain covering from key battery materials to electric vehicles (EVs). Cathode is a core material determining the performance of an EV battery.
The three companies announced that the cathode plant will be built on the 278,000 square-meter site in Bécancour, Quebec, after investing a total of C$1.2 billion. Under the deal, EcoPro CAM Canada, established by EcoPro BM in February, will manufacture cathode active materials, and SK On and Ford will become its shareholders once the deal, which is subject to regulatory approvals, is closed.
The federal government of Canada and the provincial government of Quebec welcomed the investment to the cathode production joint venture and promised financial assistance of C$644 million. They expressed expectations on job creation and growth of eco-friendly business, while hoping that the facility can play a key role in the battery supply chain.
The announcement came at an event held at a hotel in Bécancour where SK On Chief Commercial Officer Min-suk Sung, Ford Vice President of EV Industrialization Lisa Drake, EcoPro BM CEO Jai-hwan Joo and other 150 guests attended. Canadian Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry François-Philippe Champagne, Quebec Premier François Legault and South Korean Ambassador to Canada Lim Woong-soon represented the governments of Canada and South Korea.
The cathode JV will have an annual production capacity of 45,000 metric tons and is expected to be operational in the first half of 2026. The three companies have been closely working together to establish the cathode plant after signing a letter of intent(LOI) in July 2022.
With the plant, the three companies can beef up a value chain of materials (cathodes)-component (battery)-final product (EV) as well as securing stable supply of core battery materials and price competitiveness.
The cathode JV will also reinforce the existing partnership of the three. SK On, Ford and EcoPro BM already have a line of cooperation with their own products. Currently, SK On produces NCM9 batteries containing high-performance cathode materials from EcoPro BM and supply those batteries to Ford’s popular EV truck F-150 Lightning.
For SK On, the new facility is part of its efforts to secure stable supply of key battery materials in North America. The South Korean battery maker has been actively developing its battery supply chain in the region where demand for EVs is growing fast.
The latest investment also shows that SK On, which currently operates two battery plants and adding four more plants with its partners in North America, is committed to lead the way in the region’s transition to EVs. The annual production capacity of SK On in North America is to reach more than 180 GWh after 2025, which is enough to power about 1.7 million EVs a year.
“Through the cathode JV, the three companies can have a stable supply of battery raw materials in North America,” said SK On Chief Commercial Offer Min-suk Sung. “We will continue to work with our partners to lead electrification of the global auto market.
“Ford has been serving customers in Canada for 119 years, longer than any other automaker, and we’re excited to invest in this new facility to create a vertically integrated, closed-loop battery manufacturing supply chain in North America designed to help make electric vehicles more accessible for millions of people over time,” said Bev Goodman, president and CEO, Ford of Canada. “We’re excited for the opportunity for our first-ever investment in Quebec with a new facility that will help shape the EV ecosystem there.”
“By expanding here in North America, EcoProBM looks forward to globalizing our growth in cathode materials, which has been a unique strength of our company,” said EcoPro BM CEO Jae-hwan Joo. “We also are prepared to contribute to the community in Canada and Québec and contribute to the development of the local economy, including by hiring locally.”
“This investment shows once again that Canada is the green strategic partner of choice for global leaders in the automotive industry,” said The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “ Today, we are strengthening Quebec’s key position in the electric vehicle supply chain, while continuing to build Canada’s battery ecosystem. This investment is good for the environment and for the economy, and it will help maintain well-paying jobs for years to come.”
(Photo 1,2) Min-suk Sung, CCO of SK On, delivering a speech at an announcement event for the joint cathode plant project by SK On, Ford, and EcoPro BM, held in Bécancour, Quebec, Canada, on August 17. (Photo by SK On)
(Photo 3) Representatives from SK On, Ford, EcoPro BM and the Canadian government officials taking a commemorative photo at the cathode plant construction site in the Bécancour industrial complex in Quebec, Canada. (Photo by EcoPro BM)
(Photo 4) An aerial view of the cathode manufacturing facility upon entering the industrial complex in Bécancour, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by EcoProBM)
[Reference] Key Partnerships for SK On’s Battery Material Supply Chain Establishment
|Glencore||Switzerland||‘19.12||Will supply of 30,000 tons of cobalt between ‘20 and ‘25||–|
|Posco Holdings||South Korea||’22.06||Joint investment in raw materials such as lithium and nickel, discussions on expansion of supply of anode materials, etc.||MOU for comprehensive business cooperation in the secondary battery business|
|Syrah||Australia||’22.07||MOU for the supply and demand of natural graphite||Third-party MOU with Ford|
|Global Lithium Resources||Australia||’22.09||MOU for a stable supply of lithium||–|
|Lake Resources||Australia||’22.10||Will supply up to 230,000 tons of lithium from ’24.4Q||5 year contract + 5 year extension possible|
|SQM||Chile||‘22.11||A total of 57,000 tons of lithium will be supplied from ‘23 to ‘27||–|
|SK On-EcoPro BM-GEM Joint Venture Corporation||Indonesia||‘22.11||From the second half of ‘24, the annual production of nickel intermediate material (MHP) equivalent to 30,000 tons of pure nickel is planned.||Singed an MOU|
|Urbix||U.S||’23.01||Anode material joint development agreement (JDA) signed. Upon successful completion of development, will review plans to put it into the SK On plant in the U.S.||2 years of collaboration|
|SK On-EcoPro BM-GEM Joint Venture Corporation||South Korea (Jeonbuk Saemangeum Industrial Complex)||’23.03||‘24 year completion goal. Expected to produce about 50,000 tons of precursors per year||Signed an MOU|
|Westwater Resources||U.S.||’23.05||Anode material joint development agreement (JDA) signed. Upon successful completion of development, will review plans to put it into the SK On plant in the U.S.||3 years of collaboration|
|SK On-EcoPro BM-GEM Joint Venture Corporation||Canada||’23.08||Scheduled to produce up to 45,000 tons of cathode materials per year from the second half of ‘26||–|