image of lithium hydroxide powder
Ontario will get its first lithium hydroxide facility courtesy of Frontier Lithium, Electric Autonomy can exclusively reveal, in the townships of Nairn and Hyman just 40 minutes west of Sudbury. Photo: Frontier Lithium

Frontier says the proposed facility, located in Ontario’s Township of Nairn and Hyman, will showcase its lithium hydroxide and lithium carbonate processing capabilities, Electric Autonomy confirms

Ontario is on track to get its first lithium hydroxide facility courtesy of Frontier Lithium, Electric Autonomy can exclusively reveal, in the Township of Nairn and Hyman just 40 minutes west of Sudbury.

Public documents posted on Ontario’s Environmental Registry, confirmed by Frontier Lithium officials, detail how the Canadian mining company will operate the lithium processing facility.

“The proposed project will demonstrate Frontier’s process to produce high purity and sustainable lithium hydroxide monohydrate and lithium carbonate for downstream lithium-ion battery manufacturers and electric vehicle manufacturers that are building facilities in southern Ontario and require lithium for their operations,” says Bora Ugurgel, senior manager of investor relations and communications at Frontier, in an email to Electric Autonomy.

Ontario’s desire to secure a lithium hydroxide facility is a clear focus of Ontario minister of economic development, job creation and trade, Vic Fedeli. Fedeli said at Electric Autonomy’s EV and Charging Expo in mid-May that securing that piece of the EV supply chain is one of the next key steps for the province.

“While the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade does not discuss economic prospects publicly, our government continues to seek out opportunities to promote job growth and ensure Ontario remains a competitive jurisdiction,” said Fedeli in response to a request for comment about Frontier’s filing from Electric Autonomy.

But the documents Frontier provided in the Environmental Registry show the position of the proposed facility being just off the Trans-Canada Highway between Nairn and Lorne and nearby a rail line.

screenshot of sudbury map
The red flag marks the site of Frontier Lithium’s proposed lithium chemical plant, situated roughly 40 minutes west of Sudbury. Photo: Environmental Registry Ontario

Ugurgel tells Electric Autonomy Frontier expects to construct and operate the plant in 2024.

Comments on Frontier’s lithium facility proposal are open until June 18.

Establishing domestic lithium expertise

Frontier says its facility will serve several purposes for both the company and the Canadian EV battery ecosystem.

“Following the completion of the demonstration program, the demonstration plant will be used for further R&D which may include testing feasibility of other northern Ontario concentrates, training and educational purposes,” says Ugurgel.

Most of the world’s lithium production currently happens in Asia. Correspondingly, that’s where most of the global talent in the refining and processing of the mineral is also located.

In order to on-shore a national EV supply chain, Canada must also nurture and grow — as well as attract — experts. And that includes sourcing a lithium workforce.

“Operation of the plant and connection to the supply chain in northern Ontario will not only provide financial and social benefits to an economically vulnerable part of the country, but it will ensure a supply of lithium chemicals to EV battery manufacturers and EV manufacturers,” says Ugurgel.

“It will be used to establish domestic expertise on lithium extraction where there is little currently, and it will ensure we have competent operators for the commercial plant.”

Frontier’s lithium production timeline

Frontier’s lithium resource properties are located in the Red Lake region of northern Ontario. The company is still several years away from opening any mine. According to an estimate on its website, it aims to complete final permitting, metallurgical test work and a definitive feasibility assessment in 2025 in order to make construction decisions for “a mine, mill and downstream chemical plant to produce lithium chemicals.”

Electric Autonomy requested further information on any future “commercial plant” plans. In it’s “Path to Production” page on its website Frontier appears to be aiming for 2028 for a chemical conversion plant. But Ugurgel says Frontier is not releasing any more information at this time.

A formal presentation on Frontier’s lithium demonstration plant is expected today at the BEV In Depth: Mines to Mobility conference in Sudbury.

1 comment
  1. Yes. Just what is needed to grow Canada’s expertise and knowledge in this growth area.

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