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Electronics firm Sonid acquires Young Han Metal to establish lithium-ion battery recycling business

Updated: Apr 19

The South Korean electronics company Sonid has acquired the lead-acid battery recycler Young Han Metal with the aim to establish a lithium-ion battery recycling business with Canadian Recyclico to deliver technology for metal recovery while pre-processing will be done in Young Han's facility.

Young Han Metal is a lead-acid battery reycler which started its operation in 2005. It has also been handling lithium-ion batteries, of which it has imported cells and packs from the US and other countries.

Sonid is specialised in chemicals for different display technologies. Recently the company laid out a new strategy through which it is entering the lithium-ion battery industry. It has acquired a smaller pack assembly company, Z.One EV, which makes energy storage systems and packs for golf carts in South Korea and the US. In January the company signed an MOU with the Canadian battery recycling startup Recyclico to establish either an joint venture or licence technology for a hydrometallurgical battery reycling process. In February Sonid acquired 50% of the chemical company KSCB located in Yangsan in North Gyeongsangnam province, which became a potential location for the material recovery operations. The company is also planning for a repurposing operations.

The deal comes only two days after a similar company, KPS, a display tech company just like Sonid, acquired another lead-acid battery smelter with same objective, to enter lithium-ion battery recycling. Just like in the KPS case, an important reason to buy an already operating recycler, although in another segment, is that permits for battery recycling, which can be difficult to obtain in South Korea, are already in place.

The deal will become the first time Recyclico might get into real action. The company, which formely went under the name American Manganese has been a media darling since it took the first step into battery recycling in 2016. The company has however yet not entered into any commercial agreements or started any recycling operation at scale but this will, given a full agreement is reached, be the first time its process will be used commercially.

Both of the recent deals are also examples of the rapid expansion of the South Korean battery recycling industry. Companies from various industries, from secondary smelters, cathode material producers and large conglomerates have invested large amounts in the industry which also is heavily supported by the government as a part of the K Battery initaitive.

Updated: Since the acquisition of Young Han Metal Sonid is reportedly conducting due dilligence of the "S Company", a Korean cell distributor and pack manufacturer working closely with Samsung SDI. The S company was recently valued at 60 billion won and will be a core component in the strategy to build a reuse and repurposing business for batteries and thereby enable Sonid to build a complete value chain for end-of-life batteries. As an additional step, and to enable the acquisition Sonid announced the 19th April that it has divested its subsidiary F-Display for 27.9 billion won ($20.9M) in order to secure cash to pursue its strategy to build up a complete value chain in end-of-life management of EV batteries.

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