Roads, airport, railway and port; the location of the new factory is surrounded by good infrastructure. Image by GigaVaasa.fi

With nickel from Kola, Finnish city of Vaasa chosen for battery materials plant

As European carmakers ramp up production of electric vehicles, the Nordic region takes a lead role in battery production.
April 19, 2021

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Sustainable technology company Johnson Matthey on Monday announced strategic partnership with Finnish Minerals Group and the city of Vaasa to build a large battery materials factory.

Russia’s Nornickel will supply nickel and cobalt from its Harjavalta refinery in Finland and from the refinery in Monchegorsk on the Kola Peninsula.

Construction work in Vaasa is set to start as soon as this autumn and the plant is planned to be in operation from 2024, the local facilitator in Vaasa informs.

Vaasa was in 2017 on the shortlist of possible locations for Northvolt’s Giga battery factory, now under construction in Skellefteå on the Swedish side of the Bothnia bay.

“We are pleased to announce our plant will be located in Vaasa – a region that aims to create an ecosystem of sustainable technologies. Vaasa has a favorable battery materials ecosystem, offering reliable access to renewable energy, sustainable raw materials and proximity to major European automotive OEM and cell manufacturers,” said Robert MacLeod, CEO of Johnson Matthey in a prepared statement.

Mayor of Vaasa, Tomas Häyry underlines the region’s ambitions for becoming a leader in sustainable technologies.

“In Vaasa, we have the possibility to develop the greenest battery value chain in the world,” Häyry said.

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The new factory will be powered solely by renewable energy.

With cobalt and nickel from Nornickel, Johnson Matthey said “this secures the supply of sustainable, responsibly sourced raw materials for our cathode material production in both Poland and Finland.”

The annual production capacity at the new Vaasa factory will be 30,000 tons of cathode materials. 

Kola GMK’s nickel refinery in Monchegorsk on the Kola Peninsula. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

 

Nornickel has previously been branded as the worst air-polluter in the Barents Region, but in recent months the company has shut down two of its most environmentally harmful factories on the Kola Peninsula, the old smelter in the town of Nikel and the old copper plant in Monchegorsk.

Being the world’s largest producer of nickel, Nornickel nowadays aims to secure a global leading position in the green economy.

“We are delighted for this opportunity to develop our business together with Johnson Matthey — a new important player in the Finnish battery materials ecosystem — and help the company expand on the European EV market. Our memorandum should enable us to identify mutually beneficial sustainability initiatives that support the ambition of achieving the most sustainable battery materials value chain in Europe,” said Vladimir Potanin, CEO of Nornickel, in a statement.

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