Australia-listed Neometals is set to build a pilot plant to accelerate the commercialisation of the company’s technology to recycle lithium-ion batteries.
Neometals has co-developed a technology to economically recover high-value cobalt (99.2% recovery) as a material that can be recycled within the battery manufacturing chain.
The cobalt supply chain is currently under stress due to the rapid increase in demand from battery manufacturing and a supply chain that is dominated by co-production in high sovereign risk locations. It is currently estimated that less than 5% of used lithium-ion batteries are recycled as disposal is typically either paid-for recycling or landfill.
Agreements have been executed to construct the pilot-scale hydrometallurgical plant at Neometals’ Montreal laboratory. The plant, which is anticipated to become operational in July, will complete continuous test work at a rate of 100kg/day of batteries, testing the recovery of high-purity cobalt, lithium, nickel and other base metals from lithium batteries typically used in electric vehicles. The plant will also have the flexibility to treat lithium batteries from consumer electronics (laptops/phones) containing the lithium-cobaltate or LCO cathode formulation.
Neometals completed laboratory scale test work on spent lithium-ion laptop and phone batteries, and Sedgman completed a scoping study earlier this year on a 10t/day plant using the technology. Results from the study have indicated strong potential for a viable processing operation via a modular plant to initially recover saleable cobalt product from used lithium-ion batteries.
Subject to the success of the testwork, it is Neometals’ intention to proceed with an engineering cost study (±15% accuracy) to complete the technical and economic evaluation of a decision to proceed with the construction of a 10t/day commercial plant.
Neometals’ managing director, Chris Reed, commented, “With the Mt Marion Lithium Project successfully in production, Neometals will accelerate the commercialisation of this environmentally and ethically responsible, end-of-life solution for lithium battery recycling. We will apply our knowledge and technology to recover and re-use lithium battery materials and create a more sustainable, circular sourcing solution for potential partners.”