The City of Shawinigan is located in the Mauricie region of Quebec, about 140 km west of Quebec City, 170 km east of Montreal and 530 km southwest of Chibougamau. In 2011, the population was of 50,060 people. The City has a long history of industrial development, mostly associated with the forest, aluminum and chemicals industries. However, it was born of the desire to exploit the hydroelectric potential of the Shawinigan falls. In 1899, after an extension of the Great North Railway line, Shawinigan Water & Power (SWP) built a dam and organized the development of the settlement, which then grew rapidly. Several industries, attracted by the available electricity, moved there: in 1900, Belgo-Canadian Pulp (since 1967, Consolidated-Bathurst); in 1901, Pittsburgh Reduction (Alcan); in 1903, the Carbure Company of Shawinigan (Shawinigan Chemicals); in 1907, Prest-O-Lite; in 1909, Shawinigan Cotton; and in 1931, Canadian Industries Ltd. After the Great Depression of the 1930s the economy began picking up again in 1940. In 1963, Hydro-Québec took over the SWP installations. However, since the 1960s there has been a marked decline in the city's economy: the old industries have reduced or ceased activity.

Following the closure of Alcan’s aluminum plant in 2013 and of the Belgo pulp and paper mill in 2008, the announcement in October 2014 of the closure of the Laurentide pulp and paper mill hit again the industrial heart of Shawinigan.

However, following discussion initiated in November 2014, Nemaska Lithium announced in September 2015 the signing of an agreement in principle with the City of Shawinigan for the acquisition of part of the land and part of existing manufacturing facilities (Produits forestiers Résolu's former Laurentide plant) in Shawinigan, Quebec. The agreement in principle provides that Nemaska will become owner as of January 1, 2016. However, Nemaska will have the right to occupy and use the buildings required for the Phase 1 plant, as of October 1, 2015. The facility will house Nemaska Lithium's Phase 1 plant and the future commercial Hydromet plant that will convert into high purity lithium hydroxide and lithium carbonate the spodumene concentrate produced at the Whabouchi Mine.