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Japanese company considering Manitoba for $1.6B lithium ion battery facility

A Japan-based company is eyeing Manitoba as a potential spot to build a major lithium-ion manufacturing facility - on city-owned land near the West End Water Treatment Plant. Marney Blunt reports. – Jan 3, 2024

A Japan-based company is eyeing Manitoba as a potential spot to build a $1.6-billion lithium ion battery separator manufacturing facility, sources have told 680 CJOB.

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The company is considering a parcel of city-owned land near the West End Water Pollution Control Centre close to Wilkes Avenue and the Perimeter Highway.

A document obtained by 680 CJOB shows that the manufacturing facility would create lithium ion battery separators to support electric vehicle manufacturing in North America.

“Really simplistically, it just prevents electrons from going in the wrong place. You want them to go out in the circuit,” Robert Parsons, an EV expert and a supply chain instructor at the University of Manitoba’s Asper School of Business, said while describing how a lithium ion battery separating facility would work.

“So that’s basically what the purpose of (a lithium ion battery separator) is, it’s a specialized component that is critical in any kind of a lithium ion battery.”

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The document also shows expansion of the project will be rolled out in four phases, with a goal of being complete by 2030. The facility is set to have a 1,200 square metre manufacturing capability and would employ more than 700 people, the document shows.

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Parsons says having a critical component facility like this would be a good fit for the province, but due diligence is still needed.

“There’s a lot of due diligence still to be done. We still have to do that; there’s environmental approvals, there’s due diligence in terms of contract arrangements and any incentives. We still have to to that, that’s never obviated,” Parsons said.

“But in general terms, I think the facility that we’re talking about here is a pretty good idea and it fits well with what we’re already doing here and we’re in a good location to do it.”

The projected capital investment would be more than $1.6 billion.

In an emailed statement to 680 CJOB and Global News, a provincial spokesperson provided no detail on the proposal, but said the government is committed to economic growth and job creation.

“Our government is committed to growing the economy and creating good jobs for Manitobans, including by working with business leaders and working to attract investment and opportunities to our province,” the spokesperson wrote.

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“As a centrally located transport hub, and with our skilled labour force, Manitoba is an attractive place for small and medium size businesses, industry, and innovation. Our government will continue to work with business and industry leaders, and working to attract investment and opportunities to our province.”

Global News and 680 CJOB have also reached out to the city and the federal government for comment.

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