The Finnish state-owned mining company Terrafame is to supply Renault with fully traceable nickel sulphate for electric vehicle batteries in future. This is provided for in a memorandum of understanding now concluded between the two companies.
With this agreement, Renault Group secures an annual supply of nickel sulphate from Terrafame for up to 15 GWh of battery capacity. Although Renault does not build battery cells itself, it had announced at the end of June as part of its strategy presentation that it wanted to enter more deeply into the value chain of battery-electric cars. This includes, for example, the establishment of the eMobility production cluster ‘ElectriCity’ in northern France – but also two important battery deals. Firstly, Envision AESC will build a battery cell factory in Douai near Renault’s ElectriCity plant there and produce cells for the French company. Renault also wants to develop and build special high-performance batteries with French start-up Verkor.
When exactly Terrafame will start supplying the French company with the nickel sulphate is not clear from the announcement, and is possibly not even part of the letter of intent that has now been signed. According to Terrafame, it was agreed that the collaboration will start with “paying particular attention to sustainability systems and defining detailed metrics for traceability beyond solutions currently used for EV battery chemicals production”.
According to the Finnish company, the Memorandum of Understanding reflects the parties’ mutual understanding and common intention to deepen their cooperation on battery raw materials. “The parties seek to introduce a set of binding agreements involving also other actors in the EV battery value chain to take part in this development step,” the company writes.
Finnish state-owned mining company Terrafame had received environmental approval for a battery materials factory in Sotkamo in January 2021. At the plant near the Talvivaara nickel mine, which also belongs to Terrafame, the company produces battery-grade nickel sulphate, among other things. According to earlier information, the factory should be able to produce nickel sulphate for one million electric car batteries and enough cobalt sulphate for 300,000 batteries annually. With a battery size of 60 kWh per vehicle (such as in the Mégane E-Tech Electric), Renault (or its partners) could therefore produce batteries for around 250,000 electric cars with the material for 15 GWh.
Renault is known to want to reduce the ecological footprint of electric vehicles and has already secured lithium from the German-Australian company Vulcan Energy, which is to be mined in the Upper Rhine Graben. The French are also working with Veolia and Solvay on a recycling circuit for batteries.
Gianluca De Ficchy, executive vice president for alliance purchasing at Renault Group, states that the carbon footprint of Terrafame’s nickel sulphate is 60 per cent below the industry average. “Partnership with Terrafame is an important component in realizing our commitment to reach 30% emissions reduction in our supply chain by 2030,” says De Ficchy. “Low carbon footprint and traceability of battery chemicals are crucial factors to us, and Terrafame has a clear edge on sustainability through its unique production method. The carbon footprint of nickel sulphate produced by Terrafame is more than 60% smaller than the industry average.”
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