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A 1st in Canada, $1.6B EV battery separator plant to open in Port Colborne,

A small city nestled in southern Ontario’s Niagara Region will be home to a new $1.6-billion electric vehicle (EV) battery plant that was officially announced Tuesday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford were among politicians in Port Colborne to speak about the investment by Japanese company Asahi Kasei Corp.

Mayor Bill Steele said Asahi Kasei’s investment is the biggest in the city in the past century.

“You’re going to see the resurgence of all kinds of new industry that will tie in, not just with EV battery trade,” he said. “It’s going to give a whole boost to the city.”

The facility will be Canada’s first lithium ion battery separator plant.

Asahi Kasei Corp., in partnership with Honda, will build battery separators, which prevent the anode and cathode from coming into contact and causing a short circuit, but still allow the lithium ions to move back and forth.

Honda recently said it’s building an EV battery plant next to its Alliston, Ont., assembly plant, which it is retooling to produce fully electric vehicles as part of a $15-billion project to create a supply chain in the province for the automaker.

WATCH | PM announces new EV supply chain plant in Port Colborne, Ont.

PM announces new EV supply chain plant in Port Colborne, Ont.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canada’s next electric vehicle supply chain plant, a joint venture between Asahi Kasei Corp and Honda Canada that will build Canada’s first lithium ion separator plant. Trudeau calls the $1.6 billion investment by Asahi Kasei ‘generational.’

Steele said Asahi Kasei has already been taking orders and the plant should be operational in 2027. It’ll take up half of a 162-hectare parcel of land along Highway 140 that’s owned by BMI Group.

The company will invest more money as the plant’s construction progresses, he added.

Why the company chose Port Colborne

Asahi Kasei president Koshiro Kudo told reporters Tuesday the company has been aiming to build a separator plant abroad for the past few years, looking in Europe and the United States before settling in Canada. 

“We have learned that there is a huge enthusiasm coming from the federal government, provincial government and the local municipal government,” he said through a translator. “Also, we have [found] that there are plenty of great quality human resources available here.”

A sign for Port Colborne.
Port Coborne is a small city in Niagara Region near Lake Erie. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

Steele said the city has been in talks with the company for nine months.

He said Port Colborne’s “welcoming people” and access to rail, water, highways and the Canada-U.S. border as reasons Asahi Kasei chose the city.

Trudeau said Canada’s natural resources are the driver behind EV investments.

“We have clean energy and we take climate action seriously. We have stable democratic institutions and strong communities, and all those things are what the international community investors look for when they come.”

Number of jobs, who will fill them…

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