EcoPro Company’s recent $1.2 billion investment in Bécancour, Quebec, alongside partners Ford Motor Co. and SK On Co., appears to be just the initial phase of the company’s broader intentions for the province’s East Coast.
On August 17, EcoPro’s battery materials division, known as EcoPro BM, unveiled the long-awaited cathode active materials (CAM) project. Simultaneously, another branch of the South Korea-based company initiated discussions with federal and provincial authorities regarding a distinct facility within Quebec, specifically focused on lithium production.
According to official filings with both levels of government, EcoPro Innovation is actively exploring opportunities for public funding to establish a lithium hydroxide manufacturing plant at an undisclosed location within Quebec. This proposed site aims to convert mined lithium into a form suitable for battery use and is likely intended to support the ongoing $1.2 billion CAM plant construction in Bécancour, strategically positioned between Montreal and Quebec City.
As indicated in a federal filing on August 13, representatives acting on behalf of EcoPro Innovation communicated the company’s interest in seeking assistance from the Strategic Innovation Fund in Ottawa. Additionally, the company is pursuing support from Quebec’s Ministry of the Economy, as per the provincial lobbyist registry.
While the lobbyist documents do not definitively confirm EcoPro’s decision to establish a second facility in Quebec, the concept of a vertically integrated network of plants aligns with the company’s operational model in South Korea. At EcoPro’s Pohang campus, EcoPro Innovation presently manufactures lithium hydroxide, a vital component utilized by EcoPro BM to create CAM for electric vehicle battery cells.
The selection of Quebec for the CAM plant was driven by EcoPro BM CEO Jae-hwan Joo, who cited the province’s abundant critical minerals, cost-effective and eco-friendly energy supply, and skilled labor pool as pivotal factors. Joo conveyed the company’s long-term commitment to Bécancour, indicating a lasting presence, although he refrained from disclosing further details about EcoPro’s prospective investment plans.
Quebec is rapidly solidifying its status as a materials production hub, a consequence of automotive manufacturers and battery cell producers expanding their North American battery supply networks. In conjunction with the EcoPro-Ford-SK CAM plant venture, a collaborative effort involving General Motors and chemical firm Posco Future M embarked on the construction of a similar facility in Bécancour during the previous year. Concurrently, additional processing companies and mining enterprises are progressing with proposals for facilities intended to produce lithium hydroxide, nickel, and cobalt sulfates. These materials are essential to provide ample quantities of battery metals to downstream production facilities.