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Glencore to recycle lithium-ion batteries in UK in JV with Britishvolt

The mining and specialty material company Glencore announced it will start to recycle lithium-ion batteries at a facility in Kent, UK, which is operated by Glencore's subsidiary Britannia Refined Metals. The operation will be done in partnership with the aspiring battery manufacturer Britishvolt which has started the construction of a cell manufacturing plant in Northumberland in the UK.

Once complete, the plant will be Glencore and Britishvolt’s first battery recycling facility in the UK with an expected processing capacity of a minimum of 10,000 tonnes of lithium-ion batteries per year, including but not limited to valuable battery manufacturing scrap, portable electronics batteries and full EV packs. The facility will process all Britishvolt’s battery manufacturing scrap from its battery factory in Blyth.

The facility which will be built at BRM's facility which to today processes lead and silver, is expected to be operational by mid-2023 and the companies have the aim that it will be powered by 100% renewable energy.

In the joint statement the companies says the JV long term might develop further refining of the produced black mass into battery grade raw materials.

Glencore is already today one of the most important recyclers of lithium-ion batteries in the world through its smelting operation in Sudbury in Ontario, Canada where black mass from both North American and European recyclers is processed into a matte which is further refined to cobalt and nickel metal in Kristiansand, Norway. Recently the company also announced the plans of a new hydrometallurgical plant in Morocco in a partnership with the Moroccan cobalt producer Managem. Glencore is also one of the strategic investors in Britishvolt something that already might get some leverage with this deal.

The recycling facility in Kent is one of several new openings and announcements of recycling capacity in the UK.

Recently the French waste management company Veolia announced the plans of a 1,000 tpa facility for dismantling and preparations of EV batteries. Veolia today operates a recycling facility in Dieuze in France which in partnership with car maker Renault and material company Solvay is developing new recycling technology.

The British car recycling company EMR also announced its plans of a UK-based pre-processing plant in partnership with Johnson Matthey, which despite its decision to exit the battery material business still has maintained its involvement in battery recycling.

Also, six months ago the the lead producer Ecobat Group, which operates a battery collection and sorting operation in West Midlands acquired the German lithium-ion battery pre-processor Promesa. The acquisition enables Ecobat Logistics, the subisidiary responsible for collection, to take responsibility of the batteries from its collection to production of black mass.

Recently also complete new companies have announced new shredding operations. The newly formed Recyclus Group which is partly owned by the listed company Technology Metals will open a 8,300 tpa shredding operation in the Wolverhampton, West Midlands in February and the newly formed ReCoNi which process production scrap from Envision's battery plant in Sunderland. During 2021 RS Bruce Metals also started a dedicated lithium-ion battery recycling operation while West Midland-based Fenix Recycling has the ambition to do the same.

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