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New Port Colborne EV battery facility announced

Japanese company to invest $1.6 billion in project
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during an announcement in Port Colborne Tuesday about a Japanese company's plans for a $1.6-billion investment in the community.

The International Nickel Company, also known as Inco, came to Port Colborne in 1914, employing 3,000 people at the height of its operation. And an announcement Tuesday will have a similar impact on the local economy, said its mayor, Bill Steele.

He was referring to plans of foreign investors to build a $1.6-billion factory in his community, a municipality of 18,000 people.

“That’s the future right there,” he said, pointing to a crowd of high school students in attendance at the event, which was also attended by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Premier Doug Ford, federal and provincial ministers, as well as representatives from Asahi Kasei Corp., the Japanese company behind the massive project coming to Port Colborne.

“This is going to have an impact on the whole region,” said Trudeau during Tuesday’s press conference, calling it a “generational investment.”  

This is the Japanese company’s first investment outside its home country, and is the first of its kind in Canada. The Port Colborne site will build lithium-ion battery separators, essential components of electric vehicles, said the Prime Minister.

Separators are used in electric vehicle batteries to make them more sustainable and durable. They consist of a microporous polyolefin sheet that prevents the anode and cathode from contacting one another and causing a short circuit, while enabling lithium ions to pass back and forth during battery charging and discharging, said a federal government news release distributed after the announcement Tuesday.

Premier Ford said thousands of workers will benefit from the billions of investments being made in the province.

“Asahi Kasei’s investment will bring economic growth and good-paying jobs to workers in Port Colborne and across the Niagara region,” he said.

Koshiro Kudo, president of Asahi Kasei Corp., said Canada was initially the company’s third choice to build a factory – behind Europe and the United States. Through a translator at Tuesday's event, he said the enthusiasm of municipal, provincial, and federal governments is what helped seal the deal.

“Great quality human resources” in the area were also a draw, he said while taking questions from reporters.

He was asked a number of questions by a reporter, one of them about how many jobs the Port Colborne site will create, but a specific answer was not provided.

Niagara Region Chair Jim Bradley was also part of the celebration, and said the investment is part of the peninsula’s “attractiveness to do business.”

He also said it will “undoubtedly shape our local economy for years to come.”  

The Port Colborne site, expected to be operational in 2027, is also connected to Japanese automaker Honda’s investment of $15 billion in manufacturing in Ontario, creating an electric vehicle supply chain, which includes a recently announced investment in Alliston, Ont.

In the last four years, more than $46 billion has been invested by auto, EV battery, and battery component manufacturers across the country, “with billions more in the pipeline,” reads a news release from Trudeau’s office.

Details regarding direct jobs created by this investment are “currently being finalized” and will be announced at a later date, the release also says.

The project is expected to benefit from federal support through the Clean Technology Manufacturing investment tax credit. Ontario expects to support this project with both direct and indirect incentives, said the federal government’s release.

Canada has attracted investments across its electric vehicle supply chain, from mining to manufacturing. With Asahi Kasei’s new project, these investments now total more than $46 billion since 2020, said the government. 

“Canada is one of the few countries in the world that has everything it needs to be a global leader in EV and battery manufacturing: talent, green energy, and critical minerals,” said François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.

“We welcome Asahi Kasei to the list of global companies choosing Canada and working alongside us as we transition to a green transportation future,” he added.


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About the Author: Kris Dube, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Kris Dube covers civic issues in Niagara-on-the-Lake under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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