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Frontier Lithium gears up to be key player in Ont. EV supply chain

The company has named Gregory Da Re as VP, corporate development

Frontier Lithium is gearing up in its bid to take charge of the Ontario lithium production market.

Following an earlier announcement that the company will be building the province's first lithium hydroxide plant, Frontier Lithium has taken the next step by appointing of Gregory Da Re as vice president of corporate development. 

This is an important hire for Frontier, which will be able to draw on Da Re's in-depth knowledge of the EV supply chain sector he gained while managing a $20 billion fund at Invest in Canada, the federal agency responsible for foreign direct investment and promotion. 

During his time at the agency, Da Re spearheaded the development of Ontario's rapidly expanding EV sector. This has paid important dividends in the form of three major new plants that are now in various stages of development:

  • German auto giant Volkswagen's first North American EV battery gigafactory in St. Thomas;
  • a second EV battery gigafactory to be built in Richmond as a joint venture between LG Energy Solution and Dutch automaker Stellantis;
  • and Belgian outfit Umicore's first North American cathode active materials production facility that will be located near Kingston.

Frontier continues to assemble management team

"We are thrilled to welcome Greg to our team and add his extensive experience in investment strategy and deep knowledge of EV battery supply chains to our bench strength," Trevor Walker, president and CEO of Frontier Lithium stated. 

"Greg's leadership and expertise will play a vital role in our mission to become an integrated local battery materials supplier for the North American electric vehicle industry. Key to this is bridging our large and high-grade lithium resources in Northern Ontario with Greg's extensive OEM (original equipment manufacturer) relationships both in Canada and abroad."

The extensive EV sector and international investment contacts that Da Re developed during his time at Invest in Canada make him ideally suited to help Frontier Lithium realize its ambitious growth plans and its strategic mission to grow the EV battery supply chain in Ontario, the announcement states.

The announcement of his appointment sends a signal to Frontier Lithium's investment partners and downstream customers it is assembling a strong corporate management team to oversee its expansion plans. In its June 27 press release, the company hailed Da Re for his "forward-thinking approach" whose collaborative skills will help "build trust and respect with multiple stakeholders."

For his part, Da Re is particularly upbeat about the prospects of the lithium industry in the face of unprecedented rising global demand for the key EV battery component. He described Frontier Lithium as a "visionary lithium mining company" that seeks to play an important role in the "global transition towards electric vehicles" and a "sustainable future."

According to figures provided by GlobalData, world EV battery production is expected to grow from 95.3 gigawatt-hours (GWh) in 2020 to 410.5 GWh in 2024, a four-fold increase.

"I am eager to contribute my expertise and work alongside the talented team here to advance the company a step closer to production through further integration across the EV supply chain," Da Re said in the announcement. "Together, we will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of clean energy and making a positive impact on the world."

Ontario poised to help turn Canada into global EV player

Da Re is joining Frontier Lithium at a critical moment. On May 31, the company revealed it will build a demonstration lithium hydroxide and lithium carbonate production facility in the Ontario township of Nairn and Hyman, 50 kilometres southwest of Sudbury.

Lithium hydroxide and lithium carbonate are the two principal refined forms of raw lithium vital to the manufacture of the lithium-ion batteries that power EVs. 

The Nairn plant is intended to demonstrate that Frontier is capable of producing high purity and sustainable refined lithium in sufficient quantities to satisfy expected growth in demand from Ontario's lithium-ion battery manufacturing industry driving the province's expanding EV sector as a whole.

The new processing facility will further allow Frontier Lithium to establish itself as a major lithium producer as part of the Ontario government's avowed mission to create a fully integrated, end-to-end EV supply chain in the province.

Ontario has already provided incentives that have lured both Volkswagen – the world's largest automaker by revenue in 2022 – and Stellantis (No. 3) to launch gigafactories in the province.

The establishment of these battery factories will allow both companies to build EVs that will qualify for the Biden administration's newly introduced U.S. federal tax credit of $7,500 per EV assembled in North America.

Frontier Lithium's projections would take into account the massive demand for lithium hydroxide and/or carbonate that will be generated by these two new facilities alone. In the case of Volkswagen, the German auto giant's new St. Thomas plant "will equip the Group brand’s EVs in the region with cutting-edge battery cells."

Putting matters in proper perspective is Vic Fedeli, Ontario’s Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. In his May 17 speech at Electric Autonomy’s annual EV & Charging Expo in Toronto, Fedeli was upbeat about the prospects for the province's interlocking lithium, battery and EV sectors:

“We’re almost there in getting the lithium out of the ground. Then we envision things like the lithium conversion facility making lithium hydroxide that every lithium-ion battery today, it’s going to need. That is all coming,” Fedeli said.

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