Finland Pushes Ahead on Battery Plan With Johnson Matthey Plant

Finland took a step toward building an electric-vehicle battery industry as Johnson Matthey Plc said it’s developing a 30,000-ton cathode materials plant with Finnish Minerals Group.

Johnson Matthey also signed a long-term contract for Russia’s MMC Norilsk Nickel PJSC to supply nickel and cobalt for the plant in Vaasa, in western Finland, the companies said Monday. In January, the Nordic country unveiled a strategy to build a new industry around EV batteries in the coming years, pitching its rich stock of minerals and low power prices to investors.

“Finland has a favorable battery materials ecosystem, offering reliable access to renewable energy, sustainable raw materials and proximity to major European automotive OEM and cell manufacturers,” Johnson Matthey said in a statement.

Finland Pushes Ahead on Battery Plan With Johnson Matthey Plant

European companies are rushing to invest in the battery sector to help meet a target to get at least 30 million zero-emission cars on roads by 2030. Battery demand is expected to be so strong that production barely will keep pace by decade’s end, according to UBS Group AG. Nickel and cobalt are key components in EV batteries, and consumption of the metals is forecast to soar.

For now, Finland lacks expertise in battery-cell production and is behind European peers such as neighboring Sweden, where Northvolt AB’s main battery-making facility is currently being built. Still, the nation has taken some small steps with plants manufacturing battery packs.

The partnership agreement with Johnson Matthey “opens up an opportunity for us to continue the development of critical auxiliary processes of battery materials production at industrial scale,” Finnish Minerals Group Chief Executive Officer Matti Hietanen said in a statement.

The group will invest in developing integrated supplies of raw materials and an effluent treatment solution for the plant. It’s also in talks with China’s CNGR Advanced Material Co. Ltd. on a precursor cathode active materials plant to be established in Hamina, on the south coast.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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