Australia-based exploration company Jervois Mining has agreed to acquire a nickel and cobalt refinery in Brazil from Companhia Brasileira de Alumínio.

Companhia Brasileira de Alumínio is a fully-owned subsidiary of Votorantim.

Valued at R$125m ($22.1m), the deal comes as part of the Australian firm’s efforts to transform the company into a producer and refiner of battery metals used in for electric vehicles (EVs).

The miner said that the São Miguel Paulista refinery in São Paulo had a production capacity of 25,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) nickel and 2,000tpa cobalt before it was placed on care and maintenance in 2016.

Upon completion of the acquisition, Jervois Mining will launch a feasibility study to restart the refinery.

Jervois noted that it would refine cobalt concentrate from its Idaho facility and is targeting first concentrate deliveries from the US in mid-2022.

Urge for stricter emission controls is increasing demand for EVs and metals used to make lithium-ion batteries that are used to power them, the company said.

Last week, American electric carmaker Tesla called for an increased production of its in-house batteries.

Tesla revealed plans to break into the battery metals mining business at its ‘Tesla Battery Day’ event.

In August 2019, Jervois Mining started a drilling programme at its Idaho Cobalt Operations (ICO) near Salmon in the US.

In July last year, the company said it was set to acquire eCobalt Solutions after the cobalt producer’s shareholders voted in favour of the deal.