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Metals and fossil fuels behemoth Glencore is pumping $200 million into battery recycler Li-Cycle as part of a larger, symbiotic supply deal inked by the two firms.
Under the new agreement, the Swiss materials giant will ship burnt-out batteries and scraps to Li-Cycle, which will recover the high-demand metals so they can be reused in electric vehicle batteries and other applications.
Li-Cycle uses a spoke-and-hub approach for recovering the materials. At their spoke facilities, they shred spent batteries and use a water-based system to begin to break down the batteries. Known as hydrometallurgical processing, the technique uses less energy than pyrometallurgical processing, the other major method that basically melts batteries down. While the hydrometallurgical approach can recover more minerals, too, one downside is that it produces more wastewater that must be treated.
From its spoke facilities, Li-Cycle ships a substance known as black mass to its hub facilities for further processing. There, it separates the black mass into a variety of materials, including those that can be used to make new lithium-ion batteries.
Glencore will be providing Li-Cycle with black mass for processing as well as manufacturing scrap. Securing a supply of scrap could be advantageous for the startup since it is easier to recycle than whole batteries.
After news of the convertible financing deal broke, Li-Cycle’s stock shot up nearly 9% to a high of $7.89 per share during regular trading hours. The six-year-old recycling firm debuted on the New York Stock Exchange last August via a $1.55 billion SPAC merger. On top of the $200 million from Glencore, the battery recycler recently secured an additional $50 million from LG and $100 million from the infamous fossil-fuel booster Koch Industries.
Glencore said in an investor update late last year that it intends to boost its recycling operations around the world, a shift for the company that is known more for mining virgin ore than diverting waste from landfills. The mining giant says the move should help bring down the carbon intensity of its materials. Glencore has said that it is targeting net-zero emissions by 2050.