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Glencore and Li-Cycle to develop Europe’s largest battery recycling hub

Leading lithium-ion battery recycler, Li-Cycle Holdings Corp. (Li-Cycle) and Swiss mining and commodity trading behemoth, Glencore International AG (a wholly owned subsidiary of Glencore Plc.) have joined forces to develop Europe's largest battery recycling hub for lithium-ion batteries.

The new hub, located in Portovesme, Italy ("the Portovesme Hub") is expected to have a processing capacity of 50,000 to 70,000 tonnes of black mass annually – equivalent of up to 36 GWh of lithium-ion batteries.

"The planned Portovesme Hub is a landmark project for Europe's battery recycling industry and is expected to be the largest source of recycled battery-grade lithium on the Continent," said Tim Johnston, co-founder and Executive Chair, Li-Cycle.

"We are excited to expand our global strategic partnership with Glencore and build on our learnings from the Rochester Hub in support of the rapid growth of the lithium-ion battery ecosystem in an environmentally friendly manner."

As a part of the partnership, Glencore and Li-Cycle will jointly undertake a feasibility study and develop a hub facility that will produce critical battery materials including nickel, cobalt, and lithium from recycled battery content. The definitive feasibility study ("DFS") will commence within 60 days from the announcement, with DFS expected to be completed by mid-2024.

"Establishing a Hub through the re-purposing of our Portovesme site, which could become the first Glencore asset to produce battery-grade lithium, will enable us to truly close the loop for our European OEM and giga factory customers across all aspects of the supply chain. It will shorten delivery times, reduce emissions by minimizing the distance of the freight routes and support Italy and Europe's ambitions to be a global leader in the circular economy," said Kunal Sinha, Global Head of Recycling, Glencore.

The Portovesme site is said to have substantial existing infrastructure, including access to the port, utilities, an experienced workforce, and processing equipment necessary for the hydrometallurgical plant. Previously, the complex consisted of a lead-zin smelter and hydrometallurgical facility. The black mass processed at the Portovesme Hub will be supplied from Li-Cycle's growing Spoke network in Europe and through Glencore's commercial network.

"The Portovesme Hub is expected to be the first facility of its kind and scale to come online in Europe," Li-Cycle stated.

Harnessing the strength of Li-Cycle's Spoke network and Glencore's battery circularity platform, the upcoming facility the partners believe will enable Europe to get one step closer to closing the loop on manufacturing scrap, as well as end-of-life batteries, fully within Europe, using hydrometallurgical processes.

The Portovesme Hub is expected to be commissioned by late 2026 to early 2027 subject to final investment decisions by both companies.


Global challenges and opportunities for Li-ion battery recycling -  

As the number of used Li-ion batteries swells globally, most countries will have to establish supply chains for battery recycling and a sound regulatory framework to keep processes environmentally sustainable in the future writes Dr. Tanmay Sarkar, Senior Consultant R&D at Customized Energy Solutions.
Author : Shraddha Kakade
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