Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto has invested nearly $A15 million in Canadian battery developer Nano One as part of a larger deal which also includes the supply of iron and lithium products.
Rio Tinto, the world’s second largest metals and mining company, said the investment and partnership would help accelerate Nano One’s multi-cathode commercialisation strategy while also supporting the manufacturing of cathode active materials in Canada.
The two companies will conduct a feasibility study of Rio Tinto’s battery metal products, including iron powders from the Rio Tinto Fer et Titane facility in Sorel-Tracy, Québec, as feedstock for the production of Nano One’s cathode materials.
Nano One has developed a patented “One Pot Process” and metal to cathode active material (M2CAM) technologies that form a unique manufacturing platform.
The process enables nickel-rich, iron-rich, and manganese-rich lithium-ion cathode active materials to be manufactured sulfate-free from a range of battery metal sources with fewer steps, lower costs, less complexity, and with a much smaller environmental footprint.
Importantly, Nano One’s technology can be applied to all lithium-ion battery chemistries for applications in electric vehicles, renewable energy storage, and portable electronics.
“The global transition to a low-carbon electrified economy will require millions of tonnes of battery materials, so it is critically important to produce these materials efficiently and with the lowest environmental footprint,” said Dan Blondal, CEO of Nano One.
“Rio Tinto’s partnership and support complement our recent announcement to acquire Johnson Matthey’s LFP business in the nearby community of Candiac, Québec, and amplifies the Government of Canada’s Mines-to-Mobility initiative, which aims to encourage a localized battery ecosystem to serve the broader North American market.”
Rio Tinto’s $US10 million investment will be put to use improving Nano One’s technology and supply chain development and product commercialisation. Additionally, the investment will help pay for Nano One’s acquisition of the Candiac facility in Québec and its subsequent conversion to One-Pot lithium-ion phosphate production.
On the collaborative side of things, Rio Tinto will provide expertise from its Critical Minerals and Technology Centre and will collaborate on technical and business matters as necessary in the developing, designing, constructing, and operating of cathode production facilities.
“Localised, clean and secure supply chains are critical for the success of the energy transition that is now underway and this requires partnerships with innovative companies like Nano One to help us differentiate, disrupt and accelerate the path to a net-zero future,” said Marnie Finlayson, managing director of Rio Tinto’s Battery Materials portfolio.
Joshua S. Hill is a Melbourne-based journalist who has been writing about climate change, clean technology, and electric vehicles for over 15 years. He has been reporting on electric vehicles and clean technologies for Renew Economy and The Driven since 2012. His preferred mode of transport is his feet.