Renault Group and Finland-based metals producer Terrafame have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the future supply of nickel sulfate. With this agreement, Renault Group will secure a significant annual supply of nickel sulfate from Terrafame, representing up to 15 GWh of annual capacity.
The cooperation will start by paying particular attention to sustainability systems and defining detailed metrics for traceability beyond solutions currently used for EV battery chemicals production.
Renault Group is building an electric ecosystem in Northern France known as Renault ElectriCity. Combined with the recent partnership with Vulcan to secure low-carbon lithium and the alliance with Veolia & Solvay to recycle battery materials in a closed loop, this new agreement marks another step towards the reduction of the environmental footprint of EVs throughout their life cycle and towards the objective of carbon neutrality for the Group in Europe by 2040.
Partnership with Terrafame is an important component in realizing our commitment to reach 30% emissions reduction for our supply chain by 2030. Low carbon footprint and traceability of battery chemicals are crucial factors to us, and Terrafame has a clear edge on sustainability through its unique production method. The carbon footprint of nickel sulfate produced by Terrafame is more than 60 % smaller than industry average.
Terrafame’s bioleaching-based production process (extraction of metals from their ores through the use of living organisms) uses about 90% less energy in the production of nickel sulfate than the industry average.
Ore is first mined at the open pit mine, then crushed, agglomerated, transported and stacked to the bioleaching heaps.
The bioleaching process utilizes microbes to extract metals from ore. Air is blown into stacks of ore and the stacks are irrigated with an acidic production solution. This creates optimal conditions for microbial activity.
Stacked ore is first leached for approximately 15 months at a primary heap. The stack of ore is then reclaimed and conveyed onto a secondary heap for final leaching.
Metals are extracted from the pregnant leach solution (PLS) and precipitated as sulfides in phases at the metals production plant. The final products are filtered and sold for processing.
Bioleaching is an energy-efficient way of producing nickel. According to Terrafame, the greenhouse gas emissions of the nickel production process are around 40%; sulfur dioxide emissions 2%; and energy consumption 20% lower than average.
In addition, Terrafame’s integrated production process begins in its own mine and ends with battery chemicals on one industrial site.
Terrafame’s plant has capacity to supply nickel sulfate for about one million electric cars per year. The carbon footprint of the nickel sulfate produced by Terrafame is one of the lowest in the industry, the company says.
The memorandum is not exhaustive but reflects the parties’ mutual understanding and common intention to deepen the cooperation over the battery raw materials. The parties seek to introduce a set of binding agreements involving also other actors in the EV battery value chain to take part in this development step.