ASX-listed battery minerals company Neometals has begun commissioning a lithium-ion battery recycling demonstration plant in Hilchenbach, Germany, as part of a 50:50 joint venture with German plant manufacturer, SMS group.
The JV, called Primobius, aims to commercialise an environmentally friendly recycling solution for end-of-life and scrap lithium-ion battery (LiB) cells, including from EVs and home storage systems, using technology from Neometals and SMS group’s engineering and R&D industrialisation expertise.
Perth-based Neometals has developed a sustainable process for the recovery of valuable constituents from cell production scrap and end-of-life batteries that targets the recovery of more than 90% of all materials from LIBs that might otherwise go to land fill or be recovered via more energy-intensive processes.
The proprietary recycling process targets the recovery of valuable materials from consumer electronic batteries (devices with lithium cobalt oxide cathodes), and nickel‐rich electric vehicle and stationary storage battery chemistries.
In an ASX announcement on Monday, the company said the demonstration plant commissioning and subsequent potential commercialisation process was underway after five years of development, including a comprehensive pilot trial.
Neometals said the results of the demonstration plant trial would tick off one of the evaluation activities required for the JV owners to make an investment decision on the construction of a first commercial recycling plant.
The companies said they had been co-funding the evaluation steps, which would also include the completion of a feasibility study and commercial negotiations around the securing of LIB feed and product off-take arrangements.
Through the recycling joint venture, Neometals said it hoped to commercialise the provision of recycling services and to turn recovered cobalt, nickel, lithium, copper, iron, aluminium, manganese into saleable products.
The demonstration plant, located in a town in North Rhine-Westphalia, will first trial the “front-end” Shredding and Beneficiation Circuit, followed by the “back-end” Hydrometallurgical Refining Circuit (see images and video below).
The plant will use feedstocks from electric vehicle and energy storage system manufacturers and the trial will also serve as a showcase for generating evaluation product for potential customers, partners and off-takers, Neometals said.
“The [demonstration plant] will provide an opportunity for potential partners to verify Primobius’ capability to safely, sustainably and ethically dispose of hazardous LIBs,” the statement said. Roughly 10 tonnes of whole LIB cells are expected to be shredded during the trial.
“We are excited to be commencing our much anticipated recycling demonstration trial. The Primobius and SMS teams have done an exceptional job to keep the timeline tight through a challenging period of global Covid delays,” said Neometals managing director Chris Reed.
“This plant is a real showcase of German engineering and we look forward to proving our proprietary flowsheet at larger scale and safely generate product samples promised to our commercial partners under the various commercial evaluation agreements that underpin our battery feedstock and product offtake strategies. We look forward to sharing our progress throughout the trial,” Reed said.