EcoPro BM Company, a leading South Korean producer of electric vehicle (EV) battery materials, has agreed to build a factory in Canada with Ford and South Korean battery cell manufacturer SK On, according to local reports.

The three partners were scheduled to sign a final deal by the end of the year for total investment of KRW1trn (US$700m) in a battery cathode plant in Becancour, in Quebec province.

Construction was scheduled to begin in the second half of 2023 with operations on the first of two production lines expected to start a year later.

The plant’s main customer would be BlueOval SK, the battery manufacturing joint venture between Ford and SK On which is building a number of battery plants in North America.

The Quebec facility would be EcoPro BM’s second overseas factory, after the company announced plans last December to invest KRW970bn in manufacturing in Hungary.

By 2026, EcoPro BM expected to have invested KRW2.8trn in North America and Europe combined to establish a production capacity of 480,000 tons of cathode materials per year, enough for 6m EVs.

Quebec is rich in minerals such as nickel and lithium and is attracting significant investment as manufacturers try to reduce their dependence on Chinese battery materials.

Posco Chemical Company, part of South Korean steel and chemicals giant Posco Holdings, last August broke ground on a battery cathode joint venture plant with General Motors while other companies including BASF and South Korea’s Solus Advanced Materials are also investing in Quebec.