Avalon completes purchase of industrial site in Thunder Bay as key next step in becoming Ontario’s first vertically integrated lithium producer

As part of its strategic transformation to become a vertically integrated lithium producer, Avalon Advanced Materials Inc. has announced the successful acquisition of an industrial site in Thunder Bay, Ontario (965 Strathcona Avenue) which has existing road, rail, deep-water port, and utilities services for its planned midstream lithium-hydroxide (LiOH) processing facility.

The planned facility will ensure the long-term security of domestic lithium processing capacity required for North America’s electric vehicle (EV) and battery supply chain—a core objective of both the Ontario and Canadian governments.

“In addition to accelerating onshore EV production capacity, our plan will help achieve a geo-strategic priority for Canada and other G7 nations to establish stable, secure access to refined raw material,” noted Zeeshan SyedAvalon President. “While there is more work to do with our government and community partnerships, we are confident we will help close the gap between increasing demand and domestic supply of this key resource and help fortify North American energy security.”

Thunder Bay, population 125,000, is strategically located at a provincial midpoint between the resources of the north and downstream EV battery and automotive manufacturing hubs in the south.

Thunder Bay has long served as a strategic port for Canadian industry, facilitating trade between Ontario’s north and the rest of North America,” Ken Boshcoff, Mayor of Thunder Bay, said. “We’re thrilled to be partnering with Avalon to continue that tradition, while bringing jobs and new economic opportunities to the region.”

With the finalization of this site purchase, Avalon’s focus moves to build upon its relations with First Nations partners, the local community and government. Deepening this collaboration is key to ensuring members of the regional ecosystem all benefit from the project and prioritize environmental stewardship. First Nations communities are valued partners, and the Company looks forward to an ongoing dialogue of mutual respect and seeking innovative partnerships in the new green economy.

The Company also continues to advance discussions with a range of other parties interested to join in the project and help contribute to the province’s industrial competitiveness.

When complete, the integrated project will:

  • Create an estimated 500 jobs in the City of Thunder Bay as well as in Kenora, Ontario and their surrounding regions, respectively.
  • Enable broader development of northwestern Ontario’s lithium assets by producers seeking to utilize the proximity of Avalon’s processing capacity.
  • Create tangential benefits, including the intention to create a regional critical-minerals innovation and R&D hub in partnership with local university and college stakeholders.
  • Create new economic development opportunities for local and regional First Nations communities.
  • Demonstrate best-in-class environmental and sustainability process innovation and enable novel Canadian IP.
  • Create supply chain efficiencies by connecting lithium assets in the north with regional processing capacity thus leading to a decreased life-cycle carbon footprint compared to producers who ship raw materials to processing facilities overseas.

Localizing the EV battery supply chain creates a multiplier effect of investment opportunities. In just the few short months since the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) was passed, the United States has seen more than US$40 billion worth of new investment announcements across the battery supply chain. These investments help spur local economic development by supporting surrounding industries, fostering spinoff entrepreneurship, and contributing to the development of industry clusters that improve productivity and growth.

The Thunder Bay site acquisition follows Avalon entering a strategic partnership with SCR-Sibelco NV (“Sibelco”), a global leader in materials solutions. The agreement with Sibelco secured C$63 million of new investment to facilitate the development of Avalon’s vision of becoming a vertically integrated lithium producer. The transaction, in which Antwerp-based Sibelco received 19.9% of outstanding AVL shares, provides Avalon with a first tranche of funding to advance the firm’s lithium production and processing goals across its suite of lithium mineral assets, led by Separation Rapids in northwestern Ontario.

“Sibelco congratulates Avalon on achieving its next strategic milestone of acquiring the Thunder Bay site, strengthening its EVB market focus,” noted Mr. Hilmar Rode, the CEO of Sibelco. “We are proud to contribute and support Avalon through Sibelco’s focus on development of the lithium mine JV with the aim to expand the mineral resource and develop the mining operations to meet the needs of the downstream markets in both technical glass and ceramics and the Avalon refinery project.”

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