Neometals recovers nickel from old lithium batteries

Neometals lithium-ion battery recycling arm has successfully extracted a nickel sulphate solution with more than 99.9% purity in its pre-pilot plant testwork that has far exceeded the Perth company’s scoping study assumptions. Neometal’s hydrometallurgical,l patent-pending, recycling technology extracted a nickel product with an impressive recovery rate of over 98%. The work brings Neometals another step closer to a commercial-scale lithium recycling operation with the company saying it is now on track to commission a pilot plant by the end of the year.

Neometals and German engineering giant, SMS Group are proposing to form a 50/50 JV following a positive due diligence study by SMS on Neometals’ pilot trial. This recent testwork strengthens the possibility of this deal going ahead, with the JV developing a demonstration scale lithium battery recycling plant. 

The pilot study, which is nearing completion by SGS Canada, effectively shreds lithium-ion batteries, removes the metal casings and plastics, leaving a mixed “black powder”.

Neometals patent-pending hydrometallurgical recovery process extracts each of the used battery component metals including nickel, cobalt, manganese, lithium and graphite. The purity and recovery percentages are strong drivers of value and the company aims to recover 90% of the spent but still lucrative lithium-ion battery materials.

The next batch of trials will evaluate lithium recoveries in addition to running final purification and crystallisation tests on the valuable cobalt and nickel cathode metals.

Neometals’ Managing Director Chris Reed said: “The Pilot test-work continues to deliver very encouraging results that support Neometals desire to sell high-purity cathode materials back into the battery supply chain.”                                  

“With provenance, ethical supply and material scarcity concerns, a sustainable, secure supply chain will be key for leaders in energy storage. Eco-friendly recycling will play that vital role and our development timing aligns well with global forecast cell capacity against the projected supply deficit in traditional mine-sourced battery minerals.”

Neometals recent scoping study revealed that a commercial-scale battery-recycling development could churn out $72m per year in pre-tax cash flows over an initial 10-year plant life – sure beats digging it out of the ground.

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