THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Neometals (ASX: NMT) completed commissioning of stage 1 of the company’s lithium‐ion battery (LIB) recycling pilot plant in Canada.
Neometals engaged SGS Canada Inc. (SGS) to construct and operate the pilot in that company’s fully accredited Lakefield facility, which is recognised worldwide for housing pre‐eminent expertise in the development, optimisation and piloting of mineral processing and chemical extraction processes.
SGS will undertake Pilot front‐end feed preparation (shredding, removal of metal casings and plastics) as part of the Stage 1, as well as the subsequent hydrometallurgical processing and refining stage to deliver high‐purity battery materials for market qualification (Stage 2).
Neometals explained the Pilot is intended to demonstrate and showcase its mixed feed flowsheet which can accommodate a variety of LIB types from multiple sources including consumer electronics, electric vehicle batteries and the emerging stationary storage sector.
The Pilot aims to verify assumptions Neometals made at bench scale, it will generate marketing samples of products and will also provide essential data required for a front‐end engineering design study (FEED).
The proposed FEED study will support a subsequent feasibility study and enable consideration of an investment decision on a commercial plant (FID).
“We are delighted to see our battery recycling project back on track,” Neometals managing director Chris Reed said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.
“The commissioning of the Pilot represents a significant milestone and marks the culmination of extensive research and development into a flowsheet to process multiple battery chemistries, from consumer electronics to electric vehicle applications.
“With ever increasing volumes of commercial LIBs reaching their end of life, we are focussed on proving at scale, then qualifying our scale‐able and modular recycling solution with industry as early as possible.
“The Pilot will serve as a showcase facility for potential partners as well as provide strong independent data for future engineering and financial studies.”
Despite regions like the European Union (EU) being heavily regulated under battery recycling compliance schemes, it is estimated that only approximately five per cent of LIBs are currently recycled globally.
Worldwide regulation tightening coupled with corporate requirements for ethical sourcing and disposal of LIBs, thus creating an opportunity for Neometals to recover critical / non‐renewable resources while reducing environmental impacts associated with battery disposal.
Neometals has developed a process flowsheet to recover greater than 90 per cent of all battery materials (plus recycle water and minimise plastic and graphite waste) from targeted end of life LIBs that could otherwise find their way to land fill or inefficient base metal recovery circuits.
Neometals’ process flowsheet targets the recovery of cobalt from consumer electronic batteries (devices with lithium cobalt oxide cathodes (“LCO”) as well as nickel‐rich EV and stationary storage battery chemistries (lithium‐nickel‐ manganese‐cobalt (NMC) cathodes).
This mixed feed flowsheet is the subject of the Pilot.