The nickel and cobalt will help power trucks, SUVs, vans, and luxury vehicles.

The nickel and cobalt will help power trucks, SUVs, vans, and luxury vehicles.

Photo: GM/Work Truck

General Motors secured a new source of nickel and cobalt for Ultium battery cells. These battery cells are used in GM battery electric vehicles.

The new source will come from its investment in Queensland Pacific Metals of Australia. The nickel laterite ore is expected to be processed using a new and proprietary process that helps reduce waste with no requirement of a tailings dam.

As part of the agreement, GM is expected to invest up to $69 million in Queensland Pacific Metals for the development of its proposed Townsville Energy Chemicals Hub (TECH) Project in Northern Australia.

The nickel and cobalt from Queensland Pacific Metals will help power a broad portfolio of trucks, SUVs, vans, and luxury vehicles from GM, including the Chevrolet Silverado EV, GMC HUMMER EV Pickup and SUV, Cadillac LYRIQ, Chevrolet Blazer EV, and Chevrolet Equinox EV.   

"The collaboration with Queensland Pacific Metals will provide GM with a secure, cost-competitive and long-term supply of nickel and cobalt from a free-trade agreement partner to help support our fast-growing EV production needs," said Jeff Morrison, GM vice president, Global Purchasing and Supply Chain.

"Importantly, the agreement demonstrates our commitment to building strong supplier relationships and is aligned with our approach to responsible sourcing and supply chain management."

GM's EV process.

GM's EV process. 

Photo: GM

“We are absolutely delighted to collaborate with General Motors,” said Stephen Grocott, CEO, Queensland Pacific Metals. “GM’s strategic direction, company values and focus on sustainability in its pursuit of making electric vehicles for all is a perfect fit for Queensland Pacific Metals and our TECH Project.” 

“GM’s investment in our company and the associated offtake brings us one step closer towards the construction of the TECH Project where we will one day aim to deliver the world’s cleanest produced nickel and cobalt. We thank GM for their belief in our TECH Project and look forward to becoming part of the GM sustainably sourced raw material supply chain.”

What are Ultium battery cells?

The Ultium battery is made of long pouch-style cells. They stack either horizontally or vertically, making the design idea for many different vehicle layouts.

The sustainable, high-purity battery materials refinery is being developed in response to the growing demand for battery materials for electric vehicles, particularly nickel and cobalt.

High-grade nickel laterite ore will be imported from nearby New Caledonia for processing at the TECH facility using a patented refining and recycling process called the DNi Process, which, according to Queensland Pacific Metals, utilizes environmentally conscious methods for extracting nickel, cobalt and other precious metals from the laterite.

Queensland Pacific Metals has obtained the rights to use the DNi Process from Altilium Group. Key features of the DNi Process include more than 98% nitric acid recycling, no tailings dam requirements and less waste than traditional extraction processes.

The Tech Project is expected to begin construction in 2023.

"GM already has binding agreements securing all battery raw material supporting our goal of 1 million units of annual capacity in North America by the end of 2025," said Morrison. "This new collaboration builds on those commitments as we look to secure supply through the end of the decade, while also helping continue to expand the EV market."

In December 2021, Work Truck reported on the General Motors Ultium Platform project. With the project, it developed the first next generation of vehicles: the GMC Hummer EV Edition 1 Pickup and BrightDrop EV600 light commercial vehicle.

GM’s The Tech Project will help continue its EV path to a greener future.

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