Canada May Lead the World in Supplying Nickel for Electric Cars

An Ontario-based company is working on carbon-neutral nickel mining

By Erika Morris


The Canada Nickel Company is digging into ways to mine and process nickel in a more sustainable way. Its wholly-owned subsidiary, NetZero Metals, is working on the development of a processing facility that will produce carbon-neutral mining.

Nickel and other precious metals are key to all electronics and batteries (such as those in electric cars), but their extraction releases tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere, taking a toll on the environment. Typically, mining the amount of nickel needed for a single electric car battery would produce four tonnes of carbon, but Canada’s approach could be almost carbon-neutral.

Consumer sectors need zero-carbon metals this decade, and “not in a nebulous 2050 timeframe contemplated by many other resource companies,” said Canada Nickel Company CEO Mark Selby in a press release.

The Canada Nickel Company in Timmins, ON, sits on one of a vast deposit of nickel sulphides on the planet, most of it consisting of rock that can absorb carbon dioxide from the air. Timmins is one of the few places on the planet where this kind of mining is possible, and if this project is successful, it could become one of the biggest nickel sulphide mines.

To make sure the process is as green as possible, the company has also moved away from diesel- and gas-powered tools. Instead, they plan to use hydroelectric trolley trucks and electric shovels.

Before the $1 billion project can really get going, NetZero Metals needs to go through different assessments related to environmental standards, profitability, and how much carbon dioxide the rocks can remove from the air. These assessments should be carried out by next year, and the nickel production would begin a year later.

Photo: iStock/Daisy-Daisy.