Sudbury continues to fuel EV supply chain conversation
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Jun 21, 2024
City of Greater Sudbury

From forging new alliances to deepening relationships, key industry players came together for the BEV In-Depth: Mines to Mobility event

Industry experts, like Flavio Volpe (pictured), gathered at the 2024 BEV: Mines-to-Mobility conference in May. Photo: City of Greater sudbury

From forging new alliances to deepening relationships, key industry players came together for the BEV In-Depth: Mines to Mobility event

City of Greater Sudbury and City of Sudbury logos

This article is sponsored content presented by City of Greater Sudbury.

The 2024 BEV-In-Depth: Mines to Mobility Conference held at Cambrian College in Sudbury, Ont., from May 29 to 30, saw industry stakeholders from automakers to mining companies come together to discuss the future of the EV industry and supply chain.

“[Supply chain] is everything,” said Nadia Mykytczuk, CEO and president of MIRARCO Mining Innovation and executive director of the Goodman School of Mines at Laurentian University, about, “the multiple steps along the way from getting the rocks and minerals out of the ground, processed into forms that can be put into batteries, building those batteries into cars that work and the whole transportation and electrification support system that has to go and making that possible.”

While the sector continues to develop, with new announcements happening every month, the key piece that was on everyone’s minds at the conference are the gaps in the supply chain, and creating links between north and south and east and west.

Partnerships play a crucial role

A major theme of the conference was partnerships.

Two exciting announcements were made during the conference, each showcasing dedication to the industry and filling gaps in the supply chain.

The morning of May 29, it was announced that Wyloo has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the City of Greater Sudbury to secure a parcel of land to build a downstream battery materials processing facility. The new facility will fill a critical gap in Canada’s EV battery supply chain by establishing a mine-to-precursor cathode active material (pCAM) integrated solution.

“Canada has invested over $40 billion to date to establish the country as a global hub for the EV industry. While we commend this investment, it has exposed a significant gap in the North American EV supply chain, specifically, the conversion of ore to battery chemicals,” Wyloo Canada CEO, Kristan Straub, said. “The urgency to bolster North America’s capacity for processing metals — in particular, nickel — has never been more apparent. Our facility will be the missing piece that builds the capacity to process battery materials right here in Sudbury.”

Greater Sudbury was selected as the location for the facility due to its global leadership in the mining sector and forefront in the shift to clean technologies, as well as its commitment to Indigenous reconciliation with First Nations communities.

Wyloo is committing to working with the First Nations communities on this project.

“Being involved in these conversations is vital to our communities,” said Wahnapitae First Nation Chief, Larry Roque. “The partnership set to be developed with this project will showcase what needs to be done for other First Nations and private companies.”

“We look forward to continuing the conversation and developing a partnership with Wyloo for this project,” said Atikameksheng Anishnawbek Gimaa Craig Nootchtai. “Working together ensures our traditions and culture are incorporated in the economic development of the lands.”

Kingston-Sudbury alliance

The second partnership announcement came on the evening of May 29, during the opening dinner of the conference.

Nino Di Cara watching Bryan Paterson and Paul Lefebvre shake hands
PHOTO: L-R: Nino Di Cara, Founder and President of Electric Autonomy Canada; Bryan Paterson, Mayor, City of Kingston; Paul Lefebvre, Mayor, City of Greater Sudbury. Photo: City of Greater Sudbury

The Kingston-Greater Sudbury Critical Minerals Alliance is a MOU between the Greater Sudbury Development Corporation and Kingston Economic Development Corporation, which serves to identify and outline areas of continued and future cooperation that will foster innovation, enhance collaboration and promote mutual prosperity.

“Through this alliance, we’re forging a path towards collective solutions. Partnering with Sudbury, allows us to better reach the objectives set out by the federal and provincial Critical Minerals Strategies,” said City of Kingston mayor, Bryan Paterson. “It’s about advancing together, maximizing our strengths and achieving mutual objectives.”

This alliance will foster innovation and collaboration by connecting mines, clean-tech and mineral processing technology companies within the value chain, facilitating strategic partnerships and advancing innovation of the supply chain in Ontario.

“Sudbury and Kingston have unique strengths in mining, resource extraction, mineral supply, processing technologies and recycling,” said Greater Sudbury mayor, Paul Lefebvre. “This strategic partnership will help us both advance and capitalize on new opportunities that present themselves during the BEV transition.”

Investments, environment and workforce

Partnerships were not the only announcements that happened at the conference.

It was announced that Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) is investing over $2.1 million in six Indigenous-led awareness projects and one zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicle awareness project.

The initiatives will support Canadian drivers and companies in accessing and understanding lower-carbon alternatives when choosing their next vehicle, such as electric and hydrogen vehicles or micro-mobility solutions like e-bikes.

During the full-day conference on May 30, Ontario Mines Minister George Pirie announced a new program will be implemented through the Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network (OVIN) to focus on building the workforce of the mining sector. This program is called the Critical Minerals Talent Strategy, and plans to grow the labour pool and develop the skilled workforce to ensure Ontario has the talent required by industry to meet the needs of global demand. This program is part of the Ontario critical mineral strategy.

“I am proud to say that Ontario has a world-class workforce ready for the mining sector of the future. But as this opportunity grows, we know that we must continue attracting the best talent in the world to ensure that we can seize this opportunity, to guarantee mining will continue to drive growth for the future,” said Pirie.

One other key announcement was the Ontario Centre of Innovation’s (OCI) Critical Industrial Technologies Initiative Challenge. The Addressing Mining Safety Through Critical Technologies Challenge invites Ontario-based companies to develop and implement transformative technologies that address safety concerns in mining operations.

Conversations and industry leaders

2024 was the third year of the conference, and like years before, it featured some key players in the industry.

President and CEO at Honda Canada, Jean Marc Leclerc addressed delegates during a keynote speech, just over a month after Honda announced it would be spending $15 billion for the creation of four electric vehicle and battery plants in Ontario.

“This investment is not about addressing demand today, but rather where we see demand evolving in 2028 and beyond,” said Leclerc. “We believe that by the end of the decade, the trend line of EV adoption will increase significantly.”

Aerial view of Cambrian College parking lot
Consumer EV Exhibition at the 2024 BEV In-Depth: Mines to Mobility Conference at Cambrian College on May 30, 2024. Photo: City of Greater Sudbury

Panels and keynotes featured industry leaders such as Flavio Volpe, president and CEO of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association, Bradley Harker of the U.S. Consulate General, Abigail Hunter, executive director at SAFE Alfred Hoffman Jr. Center for Critical Minerals Strategy, Trent Mell, president of Electra Battery Metals, and Vito Paladino, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of Canada.

The dedication to the industry from Sudbury mining companies was highlighted with a dedicated panel to end the conference, with representation from Vale, Glencore, SPC Nickel, Magna Mining and MIRARCO.

This year, the conference featured a consumer EV exhibition that featured vehicles from numerous automakers presented by local dealerships, test drives powered by Plug ‘N Drive, and the City of Greater Sudbury’s electric Zamboni.

The 2024 BEV In-Depth: Mines to Mobility conference was co-hosted by Cambrian College, EV Society, Frontier Lithium and the City of Greater Sudbury, in partnership with Accelerate-ZEV, Electric Autonomy Canada, and the Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network (OVIN).

Stay up-to-date on news of the next BEV In-Depth conference here.

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