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Fortum puts EUR 24 million towards EV battery recycling in Finland

Scandinavian energy company Fortum is expanding its battery recycling capacity by building a new state-of-the-art hydrometallurgical plant in Harjavalta, Finland.

A total of EUR 24 million will be invested in the electric vehicle (EV) battery treatment facility. Fortum’s new site will efficiently recover scarce metals from used lithium-ion batteries while also recycling various waste fractions derived throughout the battery supply chain. This move is said to be a ‘major step’ in increasing the company’s hydrometallurgical recycling capacity and enabling the production of sustainable battery chemicals.

Fortum expects the demand for lithium-ion batteries to grow more than ten-fold by 2030. If so, this would put a lot of pressure on the already tight supply of critical metals. The Harjavalta facility is meant to activate the urban mine, especially when it comes to lithium, nickel, cobalt, and manganese.

‘Fortum is investing in a greener future by further investing in hydrometallurgical recycling. The new facility will create approximately thirty jobs in the near future, but its impact will be felt throughout Europe as it will be the largest facility in the market of its kind once completed,’ says Kalle Saarimaavice president, Fortum Recycling & Waste.

‘We are currently operating an industrial-scale hydrometallurgical pilot plant in Harjavalta. The new facility, which is expected to be operating in 2023, will enable a significant increase in our processing and recycling capacity,’ he adds.

Fortum uses a combination of mechanical and low-CO2 hydrometallurgical technologies to recycle the batteries ‘as sustainably as possible’ and with the lowest carbon footprint. The lithium-ion batteries are first disassembled and treated during a mechanical process at Fortum’s plant in Ikaalinen. The battery’s black mass, containing critical metals, is collected and then taken to Harjavalta for hydrometallurgical processing.

Saarimaa points out that Fortum’s hydrometallurgical battery recycling operations were recently identified as one of four Fortum projects to be shortlisted for the EU’s Innovation Fund for low-carbon technologies. The four projects made it through to a shortlist of 70 candidates for financing from the EU’s EUR 1 billion first Innovation Fund.

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