Johnson Matthey selects Finland for second eLNO cathode materials plant

by John Shepherd
Johnson Matthey's first commercial eLNO plant in Poland. Image: JM
Johnson Matthey (JM) said today it will build its second commercial plant for enhanced lithium nickel oxide (eLNO) cathode materials in Finland, in partnership with the state-owned Finnish Minerals Group.

JM has also signed a term sheet for the supply of nickel and cobalt from Russian metals and mining group Nornickel – and a deal for supplies of lithium hydroxide from Chilean mining company Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile (SQM).

The battery-tech developer did not disclose the investment cost for building the plant at Vaasa, on Finland’s west coast, but said it had started the front-end engineering design and the plant would have an installed capacity of 30 kilotons.

Construction is expected to start later this year. The plant will solely use locally-generated renewable energy.

Increasing demand

The announcements come just days after World Battery News reported that Nornickel was expanding production at its Harjavalta refinery, in response to increasing European demand for lithium-ion battery raw materials for electric vehicles.

Nornickel will supply materials from its refineries in Harjavalta, Finland and Russia’s Kola region. JM said this would secure supply of "sustainable, responsibly sourced raw materials for our cathode material production” in both Finland and at its first commercial eLNO plant in Konin, Poland – which is expected to start commissioning next year.

The Finnish Minerals Group will support investment to co-develop with JM "an integrated solution" to treat sodium sulfate and to develop pre-treatment technology of nickel and cobalt sulfates to tailor the materials to the requirements of high nickel cathode materials.

Lithium hydroxide will be supplied from SQM’s Salar del Carmen plant in Antofagasta, Chile.

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