The future prosperity of the area looks rosy, and Ontario is poised to become the “leader of an electric vehicle revolution,” according to Premier Doug Ford, who spoke at the official groundbreaking of a new Umicore plant in Loyalist Township on Monday, Oct. 17, 2023.
The plant will manufacture electric vehicle battery parts, specifically cathode active material (CAM) and precursor cathode active material (pCAM), which, according to a media release, are critical components for producing electric vehicle (EV) batteries. According to the province, the plant will employ 600 people.
Ford and François-Philippe Champagne, federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, praised their collaboration, cooperation, and dedication in bringing Umicore to Loyalist.
Umicore CEO Mathias Miedreich also expressed appreciation for those efforts, saying he was struck by the “dedication, collaboration, and professionalism of the teams… You have always been available to drive this project to success… Umicore is active in many different countries, so I can clearly say that in comparison, in Ontario [and] in Canada, you gentlemen are setting a benchmark.”
Adding to that enthusiastic excitement, Umicore has now been recruited as a future partner for establishing a local supply chain in North America, first by supplying battery cell supplier AESC with cathode active battery materials from the new Loyalist plant, which Miedreich indicated is an important step in strengthening the BMW Group’s regional supply chains.
According to multiple media releases, the BMW Group is accelerating its ramp-up of e-mobility and increasingly relying on regional supply chains, in line with the principle “local for local.” The company aims to source components like battery cells close to vehicle production and gradually localize the supply chain for primary materials.
“The BMW Group pursues a globally balanced procurement strategy in the three main geographical regions of the world. Our battery cell supplier in the US will source key primary materials from Canada going forward. We are pleased that Canada is playing a strong role in establishing a robust and efficient battery cell supply chain for the BMW Group in North America,” said Joachim Post, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for Purchasing and Supplier Network, in a related news release.
Ford joked during his speech at the groundbreaking that he would welcome BMW setting up shop in Ontario as soon as possible.
Umicore’s plant in Loyalist Township — which will have a battery materials production capacity of 35 gigawatts per hour (GWh) annually, according to the province — will serve the North American market for EV batteries. Given the significance of the plant for the North American EV supply chain and a strengthened EV battery ecosystem, Umicore will receive substantial financial support from the governments of Canada and Ontario for this key project.
Miedreich said, “Umicore’s investment in Canada represents the final step in creating a truly global production presence with our local-for-local, sustainable EV battery material value chains. Our regionally integrated battery value chains, which are already in place in Europe and Asia, give our customers worldwide the security of supply of these critical and decarbonized battery materials in their fast transformation towards clean electric mobility.”
Ford didn’t take all the credit for the new factory, saying, “We don’t create business as government, but between the federal government and municipal and provincial, we create the environment and conditions for companies to come here and thrive and prosper and grow.”
According to the Premier, Ontario’s auto sector is booming and growing: “We’re the only jurisdiction in the entire world… that has seven of the largest auto manufacturers, right here in Ontario.”
Ford touted not just the “attractive offers” of the province, but also “the quality of the people that live here… It’s a number-one selling feature. We have some of the greatest colleges and universities. I will put it up against anyone else in the entire world.”
“We have a new world-class facility… [on] 350 acres,” Ford continued. “That’s an amazing site that will produce enough battery materials for 800,000 electric vehicles, every single year. And the plan is going to create 600 direct jobs in the auto sector, as well as seven spinoff jobs for every one job we see. So the 600 new jobs… [will equate to] multiples of thousands of jobs.”
Altogether, investments by both federal and provincial governments will total more than $2.7 billion.
“That’s a big number,” Ford observed. “These investments will strengthen our homegrown electric vehicle supply chain and will help ensure that the cars of the future are made in Ontario by Ontario workers, from start to finish… Our government has a plan to be a world leader in an electric vehicles and battery revolution. We’re an economic power in North America. We do approximately $460 billion of two-way trade with our largest trading partner.”
He continued, “We’re building a made-in-Ontario supply chain, second to none, that’s connecting the province’s critical minerals and clean steel to automakers and battery manufacturers across Ontario… There are tens of billions of dollars… We’re coming down the road with investments, with partnerships, with the federal, municipal, and provincial governments.”
Ford indicated that US states were envious of Ontario’s ability to attract foreign business, noting that many American friends have contacted him.
“They say, ‘Wow, I can’t believe you’re attracting these many companies’… but it doesn’t happen without the partnerships,” said the premier.