Panasonic to source graphite from North America


Tesla battery partner Panasonic has signed an MoU with Nouveau Monde Graphite (NMG) to establish a supply chain in North America for graphite, an anode-active material used in lithium-ion batteries.

The new partners rely on Mitsui for a feasibility study on graphite production in North America to come to a firm offtake agreement in spring 2023. Panasonic has yet to detail supply volumes or the financial scope of a possible deal.

In the short announcement, Panasonic points to growing electric vehicle demand having made the move necessary. To stay in step with the growth, the company wants to “increase the percentage of materials procured locally and establish a sustainable supply chain”. Panasonic further lists gains in carbon reduction since renewable energy is widespread in Canada; logistics would also become less CO2 intense.

“Panasonic Energy shares a common understanding with the Canadian government on the importance of solving environmental issues, and we look forward to further expanding our partnership,” so the company.

Panasonic is not mentioning, however, the ‘Inflation Reduction Act’ signed by US President Joe Biden in August, yet it likely plays a role in the decision. Among other things, it requires carmakers to source 50 per cent of the critical minerals in electric car batteries from North America or US allies by 2024 and 80 per cent by the end of 2026. Only a few automakers and their battery partners can meet these requirements – if this is not the case, even in 2024, EVs would no longer qualify for the US tax credit. Therefore, battery manufacturers must revise their supply chains.

Panasonic, therefore calls the partnership between NMG and Mitsui strategic since it targets promoting “mine-to-battery-materials” business development in North America. In concrete terms, Panasonic will buy refined graphite mined at NMG’s Matawinie Mine and anode active materials produced at its battery materials plant in Bécancour, both in Quebec.

First, NMG will develop production facilities and material samples for Panasonic Energy to evaluate their feasibility.

“Being able to utilize NMG’s low environmental impact graphite is a major step toward our goal of halving our carbon footprint by FY2031,” so Panasonic.

The Japanese corporation has, of course, been active in the US for some time and is reportedly Tesla’s partner in Gigafactory 1 in Nevada. Panasonic produces 2170 round cells for the Model 3 and Model Y and also wants to build a second battery cell plant in the US state of Kansas. The new facility may focus on 4680 round cells for Tesla, yet this remains unconfirmed.


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