Canadian battery developer Nano One and mining group Rio Tinto have signed a strategic partnership to supply iron and lithium products, collaboration and a US$10 million investment in Nano One.
The partnership and funding are expected to accelerate Nano One’s multi-cathode commercialisation strategy and support the production of active cathode materials in Canada. Nano One plans to use its patented “One Pot Process” and metal to cathode active material (M2CAM) technologies to form a unique manufacturing platform that enables nickel-rich (NMC), iron-rich (LFP) and manganese-rich (LNMO) lithium-ion cathode active materials to be made sulfate-free from a range of battery metal sources with fewer steps, lower costs, less complexity and a much smaller environmental footprint.
Rio Tinto’s investment will buy them about 4.9 per cent of the total shares of Nano One. Next to the planned technology and supply chain development, and product commercialization, Nano One is also planning the acquisition of the Candiac facility in Québec. Their strategic collaboration will begin with a study of Rio Tinto’s battery metal products, including iron powders from the Rio Tinto Fer et Titane facility in Sorel-Tracy, Québec, as feedstock for the production of Nano One’s cathode materials.
“The global transition to a low-carbon electrified economy will require millions of tonnes of battery materials, so it is critically important to produce these materials efficiently and with the lowest environmental footprint. Rio Tinto’s partnership and support complement our recent announcement to acquire Johnson Matthey’s LFP business in the nearby community of Candiac, Québec and amplifies the Government of Canada’s Mines-to-Mobility initiative, which aims to encourage a localized battery ecosystem to serve the broader North American market,” said Dan Blondal, CEO of Nano One, adding: “Rio Tinto brings deep experience in high volume production and technology commercialization, as well as a growing battery metals business. We are excited to be partnering with Rio Tinto, our shared vision will see many opportunities for collaboration as we drive for change.”
This is not Nano One’s first partnership in this area, as the company recently also announced a joint development agreement with BASF for the development of cathode materials. The company had also recently taken over Johnson Matthey’s battery business.
Rio Tinto had recently lost a lithium mining contract in Serbia, which was surprisingly cancelled at the last minute, citing environmental concerns. Around the same time, Serbian Tennis star Novak Djokovic had also gotten in trouble in Rio Tinto’s native Australia over Covid-19 regulations, which may have also affected public perception of the company.
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