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Veolia to manage operations at Aqua Metals’ Nevada facility

Fri, 03/01/2019 - 10:11 -- John Shepherd
Veolia to manage operations at Aqua Metals’ Nevada facility

The US arm of France’s transnational Veolia group is to operate and manage the Nevada facility of US lead-acid battery recycling company Aqua Metals.

Aqua Metals said Boston-based Veolia North America Regeneration Services would provide operations, maintenance and management services at the AquaRefining plant in McCarran under a partnership agreement.

Veolia “will contribute operational and technological expertise and organisational capabilities in aqueous-based process chemistries and electrolysis, along with taking on responsibility for operations, supply chain, off take and management of the plant”, Aqua Metals said.

Aqua Metals president and CEO Steve Cotton said the move would help his company “become a capital-light technology licensing organisation that expands AquaRefining technology into battery recycling centres across the globe”.

“Licensing AquaRefining technology will enable battery recycling facilities to increase production to meet rising demand without increasing environmental impact,” Cotton said. “Recycling facilities will also gain the added value of producing a higher quality product with promising advantages for improving battery performance and lifecycle.”

The partnership is designed to continue the gradual turnaround of Aqua Metals’ fortunes following a number of setbacks in striving to commercialise a water-based lead-acid recycling process. 

Cotton announced last October that the company had “overcome technical hurdles” and was now making lead ingots at a “steady state”.

Veolia employees were due to start working at McCarran today (4 March) “with the goal of bringing plant operations to 16 modules of AquaRefining capacity by the end of 2019 and future rate increases in 2020”, the companies said in a statement.

Veolia said the partnership would expand its regeneration services business, which operates seven sites in North America “using technologies fundamental to circular economy processes, including beneficial reuse of high value sulfur derivative in AquaRefining”.

Meanwhile, Aqua Metals reported revenue of US$4.4 million for the year ended 31 December 2018— double that reported in 2017. The company said AquaRefined lead comprised 50% of total revenue during the fourth quarter of 2018, with the remainder coming from the sales of metallic lead compound and plastic from lead-acid batteries.

However, the company had a year-end operating loss of $37m, including an operating loss of $12.4m for the fourth quarter. This compared to an operating loss of $24.9m for 2017 and an operating loss of $6.5m in the fourth quarter of that year. The net loss for 2018 was $40.3m compared to a net loss of $26.6m in the previous year. 

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