Tag Archives: Electric Vehicles

Terrafame to go ahead with nickel-cobalt sulphate plant in Sotkamo, Finland

Terrafame is to build a battery chemicals plant in Sotkamo, Finland, after finding the €240 million ($273 million) it needs to build the nickel-cobalt facility.

Terrafame, which took over the zinc-nickel-cobalt mine following the bankruptcy of former owner Talvivaara, said it intends to have the plant completed at the end of 2020 and commercial production started in 2021. Back in July, the company received permitting permission for the plant.

“The intention of the investment is the further processing of Terrafame’s current main product nickel-cobalt sulphide into nickel sulphate and cobalt sulphate, used in the manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries,” Terrafame said.

The production capacity of the battery chemicals plant will be 170,000 t/y of nickel sulphate and 7,400 t/y of cobalt sulphate. This amount of nickel sulphate should prove to be enough to produce around 1 million/y electric vehicle batteries, with the cobalt sulphate enough to cover around 300,000/y.

Outotec is to supply the pressure leaching technology for the battery chemicals plant, with the contract including the planning of the leaching technology area, the supply of key equipment, and installation supervision and training services.

Pressure leaching is the first of the three main phases of the battery chemicals plant. During the pressure leaching, nickel-cobalt sulphide, which is Terrafame’s current main product, is first placed in a elutriating unit, where it is mixed with the process water. The slurry is then fed into an autoclave (ie a pressure leaching reactor, with a raised pressure and temperature) to produce a metal sulphate solution. After thickening and filtration, the solution is directed for further refining and finally for the production of battery chemicals.

Outotec has been involved in Terrafame’s battery chemicals plant project since the prefeasibility study phase. Construction of the electric vehicle battery chemicals plant is due to begin in the first half of 2019, with deliveries of pressure leaching technology estimated to begin in early 2020.

A funding package of $200 million related to the financing of the plant project was agreed by Terrafame, Finnish Minerals Group (previously Terrafame Group Ltd), Galena Asset Management, Trafigura Group and Sampo plc back in November 2017. In connection with the plant’s final investment decision, the parties have agreed on an additional funding package of approximately €100 million, Terrafame said.

Matti Hietanen, CEO of Finnish Minerals Group (which currently owns 77% of Terrafame and is wholly owned by the Finnish government), said: “This is a very important investment for Terrafame and its owners as well as the whole Finnish and European electric vehicle battery manufacturing value chain. Terrafame’s investment also improves the conditions for attracting more operators in the battery manufacturing value chain to Finland.”

Mika Lintilä, the Finnish Minister of Economic Affairs, said the Finnish state was willing to do its part in advancing the development of the Finnish battery production value chain “and to take forward the necessary efforts in research & development, operating conditions of businesses as well as investments”.

This week, BASF selected Harjavalta, Finland, as the first location for a battery materials production hub serving the European automotive market.

Caterpillar investment arm backs electric vehicle and solid-state battery tech firm

Fisker Inc, an e-mobility and technology company developing electric vehicles and proprietary solid-state battery technologies, has announced a strategic investment from Caterpillar’s wholly owned subsidiary, Caterpillar Venture Capital Inc.

Fisker said Caterpillar Ventures’ investment illustrates a “mutually recognised importance that electrification solutions will represent to multiple business segments in the future. While Caterpillar and Fisker serve fundamentally different industries, advancements in electrification technologies pose increasing importance and offer the potential to positively impact customer value for the right products”.

Fisker says its solid-state batteries present the next generation, post lithium-ion era, of future battery technologies. They offer bulk electrodes with high energy densities, enhanced safety, faster charge times and lower costs, according to the company.

The company’s scientific breakthroughs include the patent-pending Fisker Flexible Solid-State Battery, which, Fisker says, is set to usher in a new era in fast charging, safety, range and costs of less than $100/kWh.

Fisker is the brainchild of EV pioneer and leading automotive designer Henrik Fisker.

Caterpillar Ventures’ focus areas of investment, meanwhile, include robotics, energy, advanced materials, and digital solutions that help its customers. Earlier this year, it invested, for the second time, in MineSense Technologies, a company focused on real-time, sensor-based ore data and sorting solutions for large-scale mines.

BASF chooses Harjavalta, Finland, for battery materials production hub

As part of BASF’s €400 million ($460 million) multi-step investment plan, it has selected Harjavalta, Finland, as the first location for a battery materials production hub serving the European automotive market.

The plant will be constructed adjacent to the nickel and cobalt refinery owned by Norilsk Nickel, which is cooperating with BASF on the supply of raw materials for future battery materials production for lithium-ion batteries in Europe.

The investment builds upon initial battery materials production started in Harjavalta this year.

Start-up of the hub is planned for late 2020, enabling the supply of approximately 300,000 full electric vehicles per year with BASF battery materials, BASF said. The new plant will use locally-generated renewable energy sources, including hydro, wind and biomass.

Additionally, BASF and Nornickel have signed a long-term, market-based supply agreement for nickel and cobalt feedstock from Nornickel’s metal refinery. BASF said: “The agreement will establish a locally sourced and secure supply of raw materials for battery production in Europe.”

Kenneth Lane, President, BASF’s Catalysts division, said: “With the investment in Harjavalta, BASF will be present in all major regions with local production and increased customer proximity further supporting the rapidly growing electric vehicle market.

“Combined with our Nornickel cooperation, we are creating a strong platform that connects the efforts between industry leaders in raw material supply and battery materials technology and production.”

Jeffrey Lou, Senior Vice President, Battery Materials at BASF, added that the company’s high-nickel cathode materials were key to delivering enhanced energy density and vehicle range to its customers.

ERG’s Metalkol DRC copper-cobalt project to make use of Zambia power

Eurasian Resources Group’s (ERG) cobalt and copper developer Metalkol SA has secured electricity supply for its operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for up to 10 years after signing a pact that will see some power transported from Zambia.

The Copperbelt Energy Corp (CEC), a Zambian incorporated power transmission, generation and distribution company that is a major developer of energy infrastructure in Africa, will supply up to 78 MW per year of power to the operation as part of an agreement signed between ERG, Société National d’Electricité (SNEL), the national electricity company of the DRC, and Rawbank, a commercial bank in the DRC.

The agreement to supply electricity is comprised of two phases: the first will run until the June quarter of 2019 with a total of 62 MW delivered. Following this, the power supply will ramp up to 78 MW per year during the second phase and for the remainder of the contract.

Metalkol’s RTR project, located near Kolwezi, involves the use of a low-cost hydro-metallurgical facility to reprocess the old tailings dumped into the environment from mining activities in the 1950s. It is expected to produce 77,000 tonnes per year of copper and 14,000 t/y of cobalt in the first stage, with stage two increasing this to 105,000 t/y and 20,000 t/y of copper and cobalt, respectively.

Benedikt Sobotka, CEO of ERG, said: “This is an important milestone in the progress of the Metalkol project, a unique development for the global battery industry. It is an example of sustainable and environmentally conscious treatment of the local environment, and of our wider strategic ambitions in Africa.”

Miners in southern DRC have had worries about sustainable power supply in the past few years, with these concerns often holding back expansion plans.

Owen Silavwe, Managing Director of CEC, said: “Supplying base-load power requirements to mining houses is CEC’s principal business. With many years’ experience successfully supplying reliable power for mining operations in both Zambia and the DRC, this agreement demonstrates CEC’s commitment and agility to meet the specific requirements of customers in the DRC market. It also reaffirms CEC’s partnership with SNEL and the mining community in the DRC.”

CEC has invested in transmission networks in Zambia, including the only interconnection of DRC’s SNEL network to the regional interconnected network.

Jean-Bosco Kayombo Kayan, SNEL Director General, said: “The trilateral agreement signed by Metalkol, CEC and SNEL demonstrates SNEL’s willingness to serve its customers by offering its expertise in the Southern African energy market.”