Australia – Up to 99.2% of cobalt can be ‘economically recovered’ from spent lithium batteries thanks to a new technology developed by Australian firm Neometals. The construction of a pilot-scale hydrometallurgical plant at its laboratory in Montreal, Canada, is now underway.
Neometals reports that it has filed three US provisional patent applications associated with its innovative technology. The company is confident the 100 kilograms per day pilot plant in Canada will accelerate the commercialisation of the battery recycling solution.
A sum of US$ 4.5 million will be invested in the modern-day facility, which will be in operation for at least 10 years, during which time plant revenue will total US$ 233 million. The average net operation cost is said to be US$ 4.45 per pound of cobalt (US$ 9 852 per tonne), with the payback period being less than one year.
The pilot programme is scheduled to be completed in the September quarter and test recoveries of cobalt, lithium, nickel and copper from nickel-manganese-cobalt cathode lithium batteries typically used in electric vehicles.
‘We will continue our disciplined evaluation of the technology through piloting before undertaking an engineering cost study to satisfy the industry demand for a commercial, environmentally and ethically responsible, end’of’life solution for lithium batteries,’ comments Chris Reed, managing director of Neometals.