Glencore, one of the leading producers of nickel and cobalt and a big recycler of lithium-ion batteries in Europe and North America has agreed to set up a recycling plant for lithium-ion battery waste in Spain. The plant will be a partnership with the Spanish energy company Iberdrola and the equally Spanish waste management company FCC Ámbito.
The facility which will be operated by FCC Ámbito is said to include both second life and pre-processing operations. A location is yet to be found and the partners have not communicated dates for neither construction start not commissioning. The intention is to serve both the Spanish and Portuguese market.
Glencore which is one of the largest processors of lithium-ion battery scrap through its smelting operations in Sudbury, Canada has entered into several recycling partnerships over the last year. In January 2022 Glencore invested in British battery startup Britishvolt while it committed to repurpose its lead smelting operation in the UK, Britannica, to recycle lithium-ioin battery scrap. March 2022 the company agreed to invest $200M in the Canadian recycling startup Li-Cycle and in April 2022 Glencore signed an off take agreement with Canadian cobalt producer and recycler Electra Battery Materials. Glencore also entered into a tolling agreement with the Morocoo based cobalt refiner Managem to process black mass into Ni, Co and Li products.
With over 1,000 MW committed battery energy storage projects, in the UK, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Australia Iberdrola is a large user of batteries and a natural partner for a recycler like Glencore.
FCC Ámbito is specialised in industrial waste and is not least in engageed in e-waste with two plants in Spain.
Spain and Portugal has so far only collection and sorting of lithium-ion batteries while the actual processing has been done in other European countries. In 2026 the capacity of planned projects however is as much as 53,000 tonnes of intake, already without the facility announced today. Spain has also for some years been a gate to Asia for battery traders and there are additional players evaluating the market.
In Europe the pre-processing capacity is currently increasing rapidly with close to 400,000 tonnes of capacity announced and anticipated for 2025. Circular Energy Storage's forecast for material available for recycling is currently just over 148,000 tonnes the same year. A large part of that material is already committed..
In Spain and Portugal it will take a long time until large battery volumes from electric vehicles will become available. The markets have been lagging signficantly compared to the rest of Europe and despite a signficant increase the first quarter this year Spain and Portugal together placed fewer battery electric vehicles (BEV) on the market than Sweden alone. The majority of these vehicles will remain on the roads until the later part of the next decade. Instead the new partnership is eying the rapid expansion of EV manufacturing in the region where both Stellantis and Volkswagen Group is planning to build electric cars and Volkswagen's battery company PowerCo and Chinese CALB are planning to produce batteries. This will inevitably generate scrap which needs to processed.