First Cobalt announces new name reflecting wider EV battery materials focus

Canadian firm First Cobalt will change its name to Electra Battery Materials, as it looks to deliver North America’s first specialist facility for producing electric vehicle (EV) battery materials such as cathode chemicals.

The TSXV-listed firm, which owns three cobalt assets across North America, now aims to produce battery-grade cobalt, nickel and precursor chemicals for the cathode component of the batteries.

Cobalt and nickel are already produced in North America, but the Electra facility could be the first dedicated specifically to EV battery materials. Earlier this year, the Biden Administration’s 100-day review of critical supply chains said that the US government should invest in nickel refining capacity in coordination with its allies.

North American automakers are increasingly in need of local facilities producing materials such as cobalt and nickel used to make rechargeable lithium-ion batteries for all-electric models.

“Globalisation has created an electric vehicle supply chain that is too long, too costly and increasingly unreliable,” said Electra’s chief executive Trent Mell.

“Our automaker clients have a strong interest in greater localisation of the supply chain to achieve greater reliability, security of long-term supply and a lower carbon footprint.”

Electra expects to be producing cobalt sulphate by the fourth quarter of next year, which is also when its expanded hydrometallurgical battery recycling facility will start producing 5,000 tonnes of cobalt.

The firm nickel is also in talks to secure its first nickel sulphate facility in 2024-25 which, when combined with its near-term cobalt output, could supply sufficient raw material to build more than 1.5 million electric vehicles a year.