Lead recycling firm Aqua Metals has signed a deal to sell its Nevada, US, plant and has committed to invest in sustainable lithium-ion battery recycler LiNiCo.
The firm has signed a two-year, $1.9 million triple-net lease that includes an option for the lessee LiNiCo to buy the land and plant at any time— just over five years since Aqua Metals first opened it to industry-wide interest.
LiNiCo will pay Aqua Metals two non-refundable cash deposits totalling $3.25 million as a guarantee of their intention to complete the purchase.
In turn, Aqua Metals willl invest $2 million, paid in shares, for a 10% ownership in LiNiCo as part of its strategy to 'strengthen growth' by potentially applying AquaRefining™ intellectual property to lithium-ion battery recycling.
An Aqua Metals spokesman told BEST: "Our capital-light business model focuses on selling AquaRefining equipment, services, and licensing. We recycled lead as a way to prove the technology.
"Now that we have done that, we can sell the building, lower our overhead, and focus on the licensing. With the lease to buy, we have removed the building overhead, which is a key milestone in achieving a truly capital light model for our business."
LiNiCo will be responsible for fixed costs, including maintenance, utilities, insurance, and property taxes during the term of the agreement.
The agreement allows Aqua Metals to retain use of a portion of the McCarran building while also receiving lease revenues from 1 April.
If bought before October next year, the facility will cost $14.25 million, but increases to $15.25 million if the sale is not completed by 31 March, 2023.
The terms of the agreement allow Aqua Metals to use the facility for its research and product development activities, including operation of the lab and use of office space.
In November, 2019, a fire at the Aqua Refinery area of the 136,000 square foot facility caused heat and smoke damage to its equipment, including all 16 AquaRefining modules, control wiring and other supporting infrastructure.
Aqua Metals, along with Green Li-ion, Comstock Mining and LiNCo plan to form an eco-network to recycle lithium-ion batteries at volume, both economically and sustainably.
To make the relationship between the firms even more integrated, LiNiCo is an investor in Green Li-ion, whose recycling technology is designed to generate high-purity, high-value cathode-ready material.
Metals mining firm Comstock Mining is also an invester in LiNiCo, taking a 64% share in the firm for $4.5 million in cash and 3 million shares of its restricted common stock, which represents a total consideration of $10.75 million.