Glencore and Li-Cycle announce creation of European recycling hub

press release

May 10, 2023

Li-Cycle and Glencore have announced a joint effort to produce critical battery materials including nickel, cobalt and lithium from recycled battery content.

Li-Cyle leads in lithium-ion battery resource recovery and is the leading lithium-ion battery recycler in North America.

Glencore is a leading producer, recycler and marketer of nickel and cobalt for the production of lithium-ion batteries. The two have signed a letter of intent to study the feasibility of, and later develop, a hub facility in Portovesme, Italy.

Highlights include:

  • Expected to create the first European fully closed-loop solution from lithium-ion battery material inputs to battery-grade products -- would be the largest source of recycled battery grade lithium as well as recycled nickel and cobalt in Europe.
  • Processing capacity of 50,000 to 70,000 tonnes of black mass input per year.
  • Fast-tracked timeline enabled through repurposing part of Glencore’s existing asset base in Portovesme, Italy.

The Portovesme hub would produce critical battery materials, including nickel, cobalt and lithium from recycled battery content.

The hub will leverage Li-Cycle’s state-of-the-art hydrometallurgical technology and is expected to be the largest producer of sustainable battery grade products in Europe.

Located in Sardinia, Italy, the Portovesme metallurgical complex consists of a lead-zinc smelter and hydrometallurgical facility that was first operational in 1929. The Portovesme site has substantial existing infrastructure, including access to a port, utilities, processing equipment from the hydrometallurgical plant and an experienced workforce.

Li-Cycle and Glencore will commence a definitive feasibility study for the project within 60 days with a full study report expected by mid-2024. Subject to a final investment decision by the parties, the project will proceed to construction with commissioning of the Portovesme hub expected to commence in late 2026 to early 2027.

Once operational, the Portovesme hub is expected to have processing capacity of up to 50,000 to 70,000 tonnes of black mass annually, or the equivalent of up to 36 GWh of lithium-ion batteries. The black mass processed at Portovesme is expected to be supplied from Li-Cycle’s growing spoke network in Europe and through Glencore’s commercial network.

Tim Johnston, co-founder and executive chair, Li-Cycle, said:

“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. 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.

“Li-Cycle’s expansion in Europe aligns with our modular rollout strategy, as we replicate our successful North American model, which mirrors customer demand and commercial contracting with a strategically located preprocessing spoke network and centralized post-processing hub.”

Kunal Sinha, global head of Recycling, Glencore, said:

“This project, combined with our existing footprint in primary supply as well as recycling of battery metals, underpins our ambition to become the circularity partner of choice for the European battery and EV industry. This also marks a significant step in our collaboration with Li-Cycle, a preferred partner in the lithium-ion battery recycling space.

“Establishing a hub through the repurposing 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 gigafactory customers across all aspects of the supply chain. It will shorten delivery times, reduce emissions by minimising the distance of the freight routes and support Italy and Europe’s ambitions to be a global leader in the circular economy.”

Readers can watch a short video about the joint venture here.


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