Electra Battery Materials (TSXV: ELBM; NASDAQ: ELBM) announced the launch of a demonstration plant designed to recover and recycle high-value elements found in lithium-ion batteries, including nickel, cobalt, lithium, copper and graphite at its refinery complex north of Toronto.
Electra claims it will process up to 75 tonnes of black mass material in batch mode using its proprietary hydrometallurgical process. The company says it expects to complete the black mass recycling demonstration plant in the first quarter of 2023. Commissioning of the plant started in mid-October.
Pending the successful completion of the demonstration plant, Electra says it will assess whether to continue processing black mass throughout 2023 with material supplied by its business partners or from third parties.
“With the outlook for electric vehicle adoption in North America becoming increasingly bullish as a result of the recent passage of the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act and the considerable investments made by automotive companies to electrify their fleet, the need for a domestic supply of battery-grade materials supply whether through primary refining or recycling processes becomes critical,” Trent Mell, Electra’s CEO, stated in a news release.
The company noted that its battery recycling strategy is the second of a phased development plan for an integrated battery materials park in Temiskaming Shores, near the Sudbury nickel basin, that will recycle lithium batteries, produce cobalt, nickel and manganese sulphates from primary feeds and supply the battery grade material to third-party cathode precursor manufacturers.
Next year the company says it will commission North America’s only cobalt sulphate refinery, which will have an initial production capacity of 5,000 tonnes of cobalt per year.
“The launch of our black mass recycling demonstration plant caps a year filled with a number of significant achievements for Electra,” Mell stated.
Earlier this month, Electra acquired a cobalt property near its Iron Creek and Ruby projects in Idaho. The company optioned a 5.3-sq.-km land package adjacent to the Iron Creek deposit. The property includes an outcropping mesothermal quartz vein swarm with cobalt and gold mineralization, and historic drilling returned 6.25 metres grading 0.51% cobalt and 7.5 parts per million gold starting from 77.5 metres down hole.
In September, Electra signed a three-year agreement to supply battery grade cobalt to LG Energy Solution, a global manufacturer of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles. Under the agreement, Electra will supply 1,000 tonnes of cobalt contained in a cobalt sulphate product in 2023 and a further 3,000 tonnes in each of 2024 and 2025.