General Motors has secured a new source of cost-competitive nickel and cobalt for Ultium battery cells after making a strategic investment in Queensland Pacific Metals (QPM) of Australia (earlier post). The nickel laterite ore is expected to be processed using a new and proprietary process that helps reduce waste with no requirement of a tailings dam. As part of the agreement, GM is expected to invest up to $69 million in Queensland Pacific Metals for the development of its proposed Townsville Energy Chemicals Hub (TECH) Project in Northern Australia.
The nickel and cobalt from Queensland Pacific Metals will help power a broad portfolio of trucks, SUVs, vans and luxury vehicles from GM, including the Chevrolet Silverado EV, GMC HUMMER EV Pickup and SUV, Cadillac LYRIQ, Chevrolet Blazer EV and Chevrolet Equinox EV.
The collaboration with Queensland Pacific Metals will provide GM with a secure, cost-competitive and long-term supply of nickel and cobalt from a free-trade agreement partner to help support our fast-growing EV production needs. Importantly, the agreement demonstrates our commitment to building strong supplier relationships and is aligned with our approach to responsible sourcing and supply chain management.—Jeff Morrison, GM vice president, Global Purchasing and Supply Chain
Queensland Pacific Metals’ proposed TECH Project is poised to become a leading supplier of high-grade, advanced battery materials. The sustainable, high-purity battery materials refinery is being developed in response to the growing demand for battery materials for electric vehicles, particularly nickel and cobalt.
High-grade nickel laterite ore will be imported from nearby New Caledonia for processing at the TECH facility using a patented refining and recycling process called the DNi Process, which, according to Queensland Pacific Metals, utilizes environmentally-conscious methods for extracting nickel, cobalt and other precious metals from the laterite.
Queensland Pacific Metals has obtained the rights to use the DNi Process from Altilium Group. Key features of the DNi Process include more than 98% nitric acid recycling, no tailings dam requirements and less waste than traditional extraction processes.
The TECH Project is expected to begin construction in 2023.
GM already has binding agreements securing all battery raw material supporting our goal of 1 million units of annual capacity in North America by the end of 2025. This new collaboration builds on those commitments as we look to secure supply through the end of the decade, while also helping continue to expand the EV market.—Jeff Morrison