In Europe, the materials technology and recycling group Umicore and the Finnish state mining company Terrafame have signed a long-term supply agreement for nickel sulphate. According to both companies, deliveries have already started and are to be increased further in the course of this year.
The supply contract entails Terrafame providing a substantial part of the future nickel requirements of Umicore’s cathode materials plant in Poland. Concrete purchase quantities, the contract period or the order value have not been disclosed. Umicore opened the factory in Nysa, Poland, in September 2022. It is the manufacturer’s first European plant for the production of cathode materials for electric car batteries.
Umicore says it chose Terrafame as its nickel supplier because of the Finnish company’s particularly low carbon footprint in its nickel sulphate manufacturing process. “Umicore’s partnership with Terrafame provides yet another important contribution to the European Union’s Green Deal ambitions and to achieving a regionally independent and sustainable supply chain for EV battery materials in Europe,” said Mathias Miedreich CEO of Umicore. “Umicore’s contribution to creating a sustainable battery supply chain and to reducing the scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions of our customers is part of our sustainability convictions and our differentiating competitive and strategic positioning.”
Both partners are very active in the automotive industry. Umicore’s customers include the Automotive Cells Company (ACC) battery cell joint venture between Stellantis, Total and Mercedes-Benz. Umicore is also to supply cathode material to Volkswagen’s future European cell factories.
Terrafame has also long been a known quantity as a supplier in the automotive industry and has previously signed supply agreements for nickel sulphate with Stellantis and Renault. “We have conducted a rigorous product qualification process together with Umicore and are pleased to have started commercial supplies meeting Umicore’s high standard on quality and sustainability,” Terrafame CEO Joni Lukkaroinen said of the cooperation
Terrafame’s says its energy-efficient production process allows more than 60% reduction of the carbon footprint of battery-grade nickel compared to the current industry average. The Finnish company operates a battery chemistry plant for electric vehicle batteries in its home country.
For Umicore, the new agreement is part of a growing list of long-term supply contracts for critical battery metals, including nickel, cobalt and lithium. With regard to the latter raw material, the Belgian company has concluded long-term supply contracts with Ganfeng Lithium and Vulcan Energy Resources around 2021. Both contracts have an initial term of five years and can be extended by mutual agreement.