Mining company Eramet and environment services provider SUEZ Group have released a plan for jointly developing a project for recycling EV batteries. The project will comprise two parts: (1) a facility for dissembling batteries and producing “black mass”, which is remnant electrode materials; and (2) a facility for extracting and refining the metals and compounds that are within the black mass. The facility for dissembling battery is scheduled to be built by 2024. Following that is the construction of the facility for extracting and refining metals and compounds. The presentation of the plan was made on March 16. The story was also reported by news agencies including Reuters and EV news websites such as Electrive.
With 47 mining sites across five continents, Eramet is a major producer of nickel and manganese. While most of its customers are in the steel industry, Eramet is gradually expanding into the EV industry as well. It will not only provide key battery metals but also engage in the recovery of the said metals from battery wastes.
The facility for black mass production accommodates a battery shredding and material sorting process. There, the decommissioned EV batteries will be broken down into granules, which will be sieved and sorted until electrode materials remain. The black mass is mainly composed of lithium, cobalt, nickel, manganese, and graphite. The other non-essential metals and plastics will be removed. As for the facility for the extraction and refinement of valuable materials, it accommodates a hydrometallurgical process for collecting the key metals and turning them into battery-grade products.
The facility for black mass production is scheduled to enter operation as early as 2024. As for the facility for extraction and refinement, it is scheduled to enter operation sometime between 2025 and 2026. Eramet and SUEZ Group is also planning to set up a research and innovation center for the continuing development of their battery recycling technology.
There are few details about the facilities. Where they will be located, whether they will be at the same site, and how much investment will be committed are still mysteries. What is clear is that Eramet and SUEZ Group are forming a long-term partnership and have pursued R&D. Erament stated that it is setting up a demonstration project for converting black mass into battery-grade products. SUEZ Group will be contributing its expertise on hydrometallurgy. Besides making improvements on the battery recycling technology, the demonstration project will also provide the sample products that will be tested to address the requirements of potential customers.
Eramet, SUEZ Group, and BASF launched the “Recycling Li-Ion Batteries for EV (ReLieVie)” Project in 2019 in order to develop an innovative and closed-loop process for recycling EV batteries. The project is financially supported by EIT Raw Materials, which is Pan-European consortium. Approximately EUR 4.7 million has been committed into the project. Earlier this March, the European Parliament introduced a general framework for regulating the lithium batteries. Furthermore, proposals have been submitted for setting the targets for the percentages of recovered materials from battery wastes.