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Copper foil factory for EV batteries to open in Granby

GRANBY — Quebec is lending $150 million to create a new player in the production chain of batteries for electric vehicles.

Volta Energy Solutions Canada, a subsidiary of South Korea’s Solus Advanced Materials, will produce copper foil for batteries in a new plant in Granby, 65 kilometres east of Montreal.

The $750-million investment will create 260 jobs. Quebec’s loan is “partly forgivable,” according to a statement by Premier François Legault’s office.

“We can think that this factory is just the beginning of something very big,” Legault said during an inauguration ceremony in which many ministers and representatives of the South Korean parent company took part, even the ambassador of South Korea. “We are in the process of building, in Quebec, a world leader in the green economy.”

Ottawa will also contribute. Industry Minister François-Philippe Champage said the federal government will add approximately $70 million through investment tax credits and existing programs.

“Granby is entering the North American automotive sector through the front door,” Champagne said. “We’re playing in the big leagues now. We are consolidating Quebec in the automobile industry.

“In 20 years, 30 years, people will look back and say: look at what we did. We seized a generational opportunity that if we had missed it, Quebec would have no place in the automobile industry.”

Volta has acquired an existing plant in Granby and its investments are aimed at enabling specialized production to start in 2026. It will be able to produce 25,000 tons of copper sheets per year, increasing to 63,000 tons by 2027 when the second phase of the project, whose construction will begin next year, will be in operation.

Such production will make it possible to equip nearly 2.5 million electric vehicle batteries and the company is already targeting the entire North American market.

The president of Volta Energy Solutions, Dejae Chin, said the choice of Quebec was not difficult, the plant being already there.

“It allows us to ramp up production very quickly because we don’t waste time building a new building,” he said. “Also, we have very good partners here. They are ready to help us.”

Legault seized the opportunity to take a shot at opposition party Québec solidaire.

“Quebec solidaire, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, likes to say that we should not help the nasty rich companies,” Legault said. “Except that if we give a dollar to a company as we do today and that brings in more than a dollar for Quebecers, we are winners and we ensure that we have the jobs of the future here for our youth.”

Legault accused the QS co-spokesperson of “playing petty politics by trying to demonize business assistance” and said without support, “these factories will be built elsewhere than in Quebec.”

Chin said he was courted by the United States for this project.

The copper sheets to be built here will be used for the manufacture of anodes and integrated into the cells of the batteries. They act as a current collector in the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries.

Both Legault and Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon assured that Quebec was not locked into a technological sector in the event of the development of other types of batteries, arguing that the Quebec industry would be able to adapt more easily than starting from scratch to make other types of batteries.

The Granby plant is the third of its kind erected by Volta Energy Solutions; the other two are in Hungary and Luxembourg.

Last month, Ford Motor Company announced a $1.2-billion manufacturing plant in Quebec for components of electric car batteries.

La Presse Canadienne

Pierre Saint-Arnaud

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