Actions and Commitments

Call to Action # 92: Business and Reconciliation (92)

Australian mining giant signs key deal for Ring of Fire EV nickel processing plant

May 30, 2024

Wyloo CEO Kristan Straub (far right) is joined by (left to right) Wahnapitae First Nations Chief Larry Roque, Atikameksheng Anishnawbek Gimaa Craig Noochtai and Greater Sudbury Mayor Paul Lefebvre to sign the MOU. (CNW Group/City of Greater Sudbury) 


Goal: $100k



Canada’s National Observer: A mining giant owned by Australian billionaire Andrew Forrest aims to build Canada’s first processing facility for low-carbon nickel used in electric vehicle (EV) batteries and forge a key “missing piece” in the country’s plans to become a global EV manufacturing hub. 

Wyloo Canada signed a memorandum of understanding on Wednesday with the city of Sudbury, Ont. and two First Nations to buy land for a facility it says could handle 50 per cent of the nickel demand from the $40 billion in investments in EV supply chain ventures since 2020 that have turned Canada into a sector hot-spot.

Automakers Ford, General Motors, Volkswagen and, most recently, Honda, have announced plans for EV-linked production in Canada, which plans to phase out gas-fuelled vehicles by 2035. Battery-makers Northvolt and Stellantis have also started plans to operate factories in the country.

“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,” said Kristan Straub, CEO of Wyloo Canada, which is backed by Forrest’s Tattarang investment group.

“The urgency to bolster North America’s capacity for processing metals — in particular, nickel — has never been more apparent,” Straub said in a statement.

Wyloo’s Sudbury plant will process low-carbon nickel sulfate and nickel-dominant precursor cathode active material (pCAM), a key component in EV batteries. 

The downstream facility is “the missing piece in Canada’s aspirations to develop a domestic EV battery supply chain,” Straub said. Local media reports said the plant could cost up to $900 million and create several hundred jobs.

Nickel would be sourced from Wyloo’s proposed Eagle’s Nest mine in northern Ontario’s Ring of Fire mineral belt, as well as third-party suppliers and recycled battery materials. 

The Ring of Fire — a 5,000 sq. km. area about 500 km northeast of Thunder Bay, Ont. — is a potential source of critical minerals such as cobalt, nickel, copper and platinum for the EV industry. Its development has been controversial, with Ontario First Nations chiefs in January calling for a one-year moratorium on mining claims on their territories after a surge in the previous year. 

Ontario’s Conservative government, which has made mining the Ring of Fire a priority to supply metals for a fully-integrated EV industry, later denied their request for a pause in claims.

The Atikameksheng Anishnawbek and Wahnapitae First Nations will partner with Wyloo on the Sudbury project. 

“We have been left out for over 100 years from resource development on our lands. This is the first time [First Nations] have been at the table from the outset on such a major project,” Atikameksheng Anishnawbek Gimaa Craig Nootchtai told a business conference in Sudbury on Thursday.

“We feel this project is just a stepping stone to many more. We are ‘pro’ sustainable development. We want to be leaders in this [for all First Nations],” he added.

Wahnapitae First Nation chief Larry Roque said on Wednesday the partnership “will showcase what needs to be done for other First Nations and private companies.”

Wyloo is completing a scoping study for the project and expects to break ground after the opening of the Eagle’s Nest mine, which is due to start construction in 2027.

Straub pledged to deliver a “responsibly-sourced supply of high-grade clean nickel” and a “stable and ethical supply chain” for an EV industry that would not have to rely on overseas nickel imports.