The Sardinian regional government turned down a request for a fast-track approval process and said the documentation provided by Glencore, the Swiss-based mining and metal trading company, is not sufficient.
It does not prove the environmental impact of the planned recycling plant for electric vehicle (EV) batteries, it said.
The plant has been designed together with the Canadian recycling specialist Li-Cycle for recovery of critical battery metals from lithium-ion battery production scrap and from the so-called black mass from end-of-life EV batteries.
The local authorities said a request for a fast-track approval process could not be accepted. The member for environmental protection said that further aspects need to be investigated to analyse the impact of the plant on Sardinia’s sensitive eco-system.
The recycling plant would be established in connection with Glencore’s existing facility Portovesme, the only Italian zinc and lead producer. Both smelter lines have been discontinued since 2021. The new recycling hub would be a supplier of nickel, cobalt and lithium carbonate.
“The presence, in liquid or gaseous emissions, of lithium and other metals or chemicals contained in the black mass requires an in-depth investigation of the effects,” the Sardinian government said in its documents.
Facing the risks of emissions of toxic materials, the government must re-address the whole process in detail to the applicants. Under Italian law, a complete review of the project’s environmental impact can take up to six months, but terms may be extended as the administration and the companies continue to work on the authorisations needed. “However, the company has not yet presented a feasibility plan,” Industry Minister Adolfo Urso said.
Glencore said the two groups might have to look at other locations outside Italy.