26/10/2021 - 15:44

Neometals kick starts lithium battery recycling plant

26/10/2021 - 15:44

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ASX-listed Neometals and its joint venture partner, mega German engineering firm, SMS Group, have successfully completed commissioning of their showcase lithium-ion battery recycling demonstration plant. All leaching, purification and recovery circuits of the “Stage 2” hydrometallurgical refinery have now been successfully wet commissioned. The plant trial on electric vehicle batteries will commence as scheduled in early November.

Neometals kick starts lithium battery recycling plant
Lithium refining circuit at the recycling plant in Germany. Credit: File

ASX-listed Neometals and its joint venture partner, mega German engineering firm, SMS Group, have successfully completed commissioning of their showcase lithium-ion battery recycling demonstration plant. All leaching, purification and recovery circuits of the “Stage 2” hydrometallurgical refinery have been successfully wet commissioned.

A plant trial on electric vehicle batteries will commence as scheduled in early November and the trial will generate data for the feasibility study and demonstrate the safety and efficiency of green recycling processes.

Joint venture company Primobius GmbH is equally owned by Neometals and SMS Group and has developed an innovative proprietary process that focuses on recovering valuable metal materials from spent lithium-ion batteries. The demonstration plant is located in the leased Primobius building in the SMS manufacturing plant in Hilchenbach, Germany.

Primobius has already built and has been operating the front-end of a shredding and beneficiation demonstration plant, which was designed to showcase its capability to provide a recycled product for potential customers and to dispose of hazardous waste safely and sustainably from spent lithium batteries. The newly commissioned “Stage 2” of the demonstration plant will help build up operational capacity to provide a 10 tonne per day commercial battery disposal recycling service by early 2022.

The successful commissioning and operation of the 10 tonne per day commercial disposal plant will precede any investment decision by Primobius on the larger 50 tonne per day Primobius recycling operation in Germany.

The recycling plant aims to remove metal electrodes, plastic separators and casings from spent batteries and produce battery cathode and anode materials for refining.  The facility comprises a fully constructed ‘front-end’ shredding and beneficiation circuit and a ‘back-end’ hydrometallurgical refining circuit that has now been successfully commissioned. The plant has three separate refining circuits for nickel, cobalt and lithium extraction.

Primobius says the intermediate active material, the so-called “Black Mass”, produced in Stage 1 has been successfully leached, purified and individual sulphate solutions of copper, manganese, cobalt, nickel and lithium recovered sequentially via solvent extraction.

Commissioning of the demonstration plant refining circuit clears the path for Primobius to commence continuous trials on lithium-ion battery cells and modules sourced from the European electric vehicle supply chain.

The company says the purpose of the trials is to confirm at scale the technical feasibility of the recycling flowsheet on a continuous, fully integrated basis. If successful, it will enable the completion of the feasibility study for a 50 tonne per day recycling operation beginning in the March quarter of 2022.

Neometals deployed several of its Perth-based hydrometallurgical team to Germany to assist the local team with supervising the commissioning of the Stage 2 circuits. Over the next couple of weeks, the JV will undertake process optimisation activities before the continuous trials ramp up in November.  The technocrats will also take the opportunity to collate all things learnt through the construction and commissioning stages for application to the scaled-up commercial plant design and incorporation into the feasibility study.

 Neometals’ Managing Director Chris Reed commented: “This is another important milestone for Primobius. The demonstration trial is the conclusive phase of our evaluation with SMS and represents the key step in bringing our pipeline of potential plants into commercial reality. Inbound interest from the global EV supply chain in our efficient, green recycling process is exceptional. This interest coupled with the scalability and deliverability from our partnership with a leading global plant builder in SMS, augurs well for the achievement of our goal to become the leading recycling solution in the Western world.”

The joint venture partners say Primobius is also in advanced commercial negotiations with third parties to secure “feed” via disposal service agreements for the commercial scale plant. The JV partners are also in discussions with potential customers for the sale of black mass, metal foils, steel and plastics produced from the 10 tonne per day shredder plant. 

 

Is your ASX-listed company doing something interesting? Contact: matt.birney@businessnews.com.au

 

 

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