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Electra Battery Materials lays out sustainability strategy

Electra Battery Materials has released its first sustainability report to reveal how it will reach net-zero and build out a sustainable battery manufacturing and recycling company. (Courtesy Electra Battery Materials)

Electra Battery Materials, a Toronto-based battery producer and recycler, has outlined its 2050 net-zero target and initiatives to create a cleaner battery lifecycle in its inaugural sustainability report.

The company is building a battery materials park in Temiskaming Shores, Ont. which it says it the first such development in North America. It is to be commissioned in the spring of 2023.

Electra plans to produce cobalt and nickel sulfate for batteries and recycle black mass from electric vehicle cell manufacturers at the park.

It also started exploration work at its copper-cobalt mining asset in Idaho in 2022.

The company will build on its “milestones as we complete the commissioning of our cobalt sulfate refinery and our black mass recycling trial program over the coming months and begin commercial production in 2023," said Trent Mell, Electra’s CEO, in a related press release. "Key to our success will be to leverage our low-carbon hydrometallurgical production facilities and establish Electra as an ESG leader within the electric vehicle battery supply chain in North America.”

Electra is targeting 50 per cent less-carbon-intensive cobalt sulfate across Scope 1 and 2 emissions, compared to Chinese cobalt sulfate production which dominates the electric vehicle supply chain market, and 40 per cent lower transportation emissions.

Electra’s 2022 emissions

In 2022, Electra reports emitting 118 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) of Scope 1 emissions compared to 311 tCO2e in 2021 – a 263.5 per cent decrease year-over-year. Its 2022 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions covered January to September, while its 2021 emissions covered the whole year, explaining the drop in Scope 1 emissions.

Its 2021 emissions covered the whole year.

Scope 2 emissions were calculated at eight tCO2e in 2022, compared to one tCO2e in 2021.

Scope 3 emissions in 2022 were calculated at 1,382 tCO2e and 1,228 tCO2e in 2021, a 12.5 per cent increase.

Emissions per employee were 31.4 tCO2e in 2022 compared to 81.1 tCO2e in 2021. Electra grew from 19 employees in 2021 to 48 employees in 2022, explaining most of the difference.

Electra calculated its GHG emissions according to the GHG Protocol Standards. The GHG emissions data was organized by engineering company Hatch, while the data was sourced from Electra and other third-party providers. Hatch says the accuracy, completeness or validity of the data was not verified.

Building a sustainable battery supply chain

Electra’s mission is to have the “lowest carbon footprint of all cobalt sulfate producers in the world and achieve the same for all the other products in our future portfolio.”

It also intends to reach net-zero by 2050 and is writing a decarbonization roadmap with medium-term goals which will be published in 2023.

To produce and recycle batteries, Electra is powering its Ontario facility with energy from 90 per cent zero- or low-carbon sources. The company’s plan for the battery park estimates Scope 1 and 2 emissions from 14,000 to 16,000 of tCO2e per year.

As part of its commitment to protect water availability and quality, Electra built sediment control traps on the Iron Creek property and its adjacent U.S. Forest Service roads to minimize sediment runoff into surface waters.

It also installed a weather station to set an environmental baseline to measure and track changes, and understand local vulnerabilities to help local communities adaptations to extreme climate events, such as tornados, floods and wildfires.

Other developments

  • Electra made efforts to preserve biodiversity with prevention, mitigation, control, offset and monitoring measures.
  • Adopted a zero-tolerance policy against human rights abuses like child labour and organized training and awareness sessions for its employees and suppliers.
  • Plans to approach communities and Indigenous groups with employment, training and development opportunities at job fairs.
  • Began requesting third-party due diligence or audit reports related to the Responsible Minerals Initiative assessment from its suppliers in 2022.

Read the report here.

Editor's note: Clarified Electra's plans to produce cobalt and nickel sulfate for batteries, not "cobalt and nickel batteries," and clarified details about its Scope 1 emissions in 2022.

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