Electra Battery Materials Corporation has launched a demonstration plant with the goal of recovering and recycling high-value elements present in lithium-ion batteries. Located in an Electra refinery complex in Ontario, they process cobalt, copper, graphite, lithium, and nickel, among others.
CEO Trent Mell said that this was a great way to end 2022, a year full of achievements for the company. He said that there has become a need for battery-grade materials supply. This is related to the increasing bullishness of EV adoption in North America due to the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act. On top of that, automotive companies are putting significant investments into the electrification of their fleet. These developments have called for a domestic supply of materials, which can be met through critical recycling and refining processes.
Moreover, the success of the new demonstration plant would allow for its commercialization. It is envisioned as a 5,000-tonne per annum processing facility that uses the same personnel, lab facility, and infrastructure on the Electra battery materials park. Combining it with the planned production of nickel, manganese, and cobalt sulfates will lead to a diversification of both the customer base and cash flow.
Project Development Vice President Mark Trevisiol shared that the project team has been performing on schedule. The members have done a good job of preparing the first facility of this kind in North America. Its goal is the recovery of critical metals in end-of-life EVs and lithium-ion batteries. According to him, this goes to demonstrate the metallurgical knowledge of the company. The refinery complex bears the potential to meet the demand for battery-grade materials in North America.
With the use of a proprietary hydrometallurgical process, Electra plans to process as many as 75 tonnes of material by batch in the plant. The plan is to finish the demonstration plant in the first quarter of 2023. Upon its completion, Electra is going to assess if it will continue these procedures throughout the year. The material will come from business partners and third parties alike.
Previously, the company sourced its black mass samples from North American, Asian, and European suppliers. They took a look at the feed characteristics and worked on a process that will recover the cobalt, copper, graphite, nickel, manganese, and lithium. This strategy is actually the second of its phased development plan to construct a battery materials park in the Canadian province.
The hydrometallurgical process developed by Electra comes with a low carbon footprint. It generates stable non-acid generating residue to minimize the impact on the environment while meeting both provincial and federal regulations at the same time.