General Motors (GM) and Vale sign long-term nickel supply agreement critical to North American electric vehicle (EV) supply chain

General Motors (GM) andVale Canada Limited, a subsidiary of Vale S.A., have announced they have signed a term sheet for the long-term supply of battery-grade nickel sulfate from Vale’s proposed plant at Bécancour, Québec, Canada. 

This agreement secures GM a supply of nickel sulfate from a US free-trade partner to support its fast-growing electric vehicle (EV) production needs in North America.

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Under the terms of the agreement, Vale will supply battery grade nickel sulfate, equivalent to 25,000 metric tons per year of contained nickel, for use in GM’s Ultium battery cathodes. These will power a broad portfolio of electric vehicles including the Chevrolet Silverado EV, Blazer EV and Equinox EV, the Cadillac LYRIQ, the GMC Sierra EV, and the GMC HUMMER EV Pickup and SUV. 

The amount of contained nickel is sufficient to supply approximately 350,000 electric vehicles annually. Deliveries are targeted to commence in the second half of 2026.

This initiative highlights Vale’s uniquely strategic position to be the supplier of choice to the electric vehicle industry, using its low-carbon footprint and market-leading position as North America’s largest producer of finished nickel. Nickel sulfate is the chemical compound used in the production of pre-cathode active materials for nickel-based lithium-ion batteries.

Deshnee Naidoo, Vale Executive Vice President of Base Metals, said: “This is a momentous agreement for Vale Base Metals that brings a key partner in GM into this first-of-its-kind facility for Canada and North America.

“The proposed nickel sulfate project would utilise high purity, low-carbon nickel from our Canadian refineries and is a natural extension for the business, offering diversified sales and a fast entry and anchor point into the North American electric vehicle market. 

“We look forward to continuing engagements with the governments of Canada and Quebec on this strategic critical mineral project.”

The collaboration will help GM to continue rapidly scaling its Ultium EV Platform to reach one million units of annual electric vehicle manufacturing capacity in North America by 2025. GM is building on more than a decade of advanced battery research and development with its new Wallace Battery Cell Innovation Center in Warren, Michigan. 

Doug Parks, GM executive vice president of Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain, said: “GM’s dedicated cross-functional organisation — including experts from global purchasing and supply chain, corporate development, legal, finance and treasury — is strictly focused on building a secure, sustainable, scalable and cost-competitive EV supply chain.

“Their work has already allowed GM to sign multiple binding agreements to secure the battery raw material to support one million units of annual EV capacity in North America in 2025. 

“This new agreement with Vale reinforces GM’s leadership in building a secure and sustainable North America EV supply chain and will provide GM with significant supply of high-grade nickel sulfate from a low-carbon source.

“In addition, Canada continues to play an important role in GM’s all-electric future and the material sourced from Vale will help support EV eligibility for consumer incentives under the new clean energy tax credits in the US.” 

Vale and GM have also agreed to study collaborative ways to partner on advanced technology development and commercialisation pathways to harvest recycled metals. 

François-Philippe Champagne, Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, said: “This announcement between Vale and GM builds on Canada’s world-leading EV battery industry. It’s become even more clear that Canada can be the supplier of choice for the electric cars of the future. 

“By leveraging Canadian critical minerals, we will see more jobs for Canadians, a growing economy and a greener and cleaner future for everyone.”

Vale S.A.’s base metals business is one of the world’s largest producers of high-quality nickel and an important producer of copper and responsibly sourced cobalt. With headquarters in Toronto, Canada, and operations in Newfoundland & Labrador, Ontario, Manitoba, Indonesia and Brazil, the business delivers critical building blocks for a cleaner, greener future.

Pierre Fitzgibbon, Québec’s Minister of Economy, Innovation and Energy, said: “The signing of this agreement confirms that the biggest players in the industry want to invest here and enter our supply chain. We have the resources and the expertise to produce the cleanest battery in the world, and this news will certainly contribute to that.”

This follows the news back in September that General Motors would be collaborating with OneD Battery Sciences on joint R&D of silicon anode technology for more efficient electric vehicle batteries. 

Ian Osborne
Ian Osborne
Editor-in-Chief at ElectricDrives

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