Glencore, ACE Green Recycling sign battery recycling agreement

Glencore and ACE Green Recycling announced a long-term supply agreement on Tuesday December 6 for recycled lead, as well as for several battery metal end-products recycled from lithium-ion batteries

Fastmarkets most recently assessed the lead scrap whole batteries buying price, delivered smelters US, at $20.00-24.00 per hundredweight on November 29, unchanged from the assessment two weeks earlier.

The 15-year agreement will allow for the purchase of as much as 100% of ACE’s products from four proposed lead-acid and lithium-ion battery recycling facilities under development in the US, India and Thailand.

“We are delighted to partner with Glencore and together contribute toward making global electrification sustainable,” Nishchay Chadha, co-founder and chief executive officer of ACE, said.

“To safeguard a greener future, we need to create sustainable and localized circular supply chain solutions to ensure these critical battery materials are available indefinitely,” he added.

Creating such closed-loop supply chain solutions will be key to the achievement of critical battery pack thresholds set for the US by the country’s recently introduced Inflation Reduction Act.

Achieving these thresholds is considered by many to be crucial to a successful transition to the use of electric vehicles (EVs). Studies have shown that tax incentives are a major driver of consumer demand for EVs because, without them, consumers are more likely to choose traditional cars with internal combustion engines.

The Inflation Reduction Act includes a $7,500 tax credit for the purchase of EVs that meet specific criteria relating to critical minerals.

In order to fully obtain this credit, by 2027 at least 80% of the lithium, cobalt, nickel, manganese and graphite used in EV battery production must be extracted and processed in the US, or in a country with which the US has a free trade agreement.

But there are major unresolved questions concerning exactly how supply chains will meet this rising demand. Only a handful of current US free trade partners have battery manufacturing capabilities or produce officially identified “critical minerals.”

Battery recycling technology such as that being developed by ACE Green Recycling is critical to creating circular supply chains capable of sustaining EV production, even if clean extraction and domestic or free-trade production goals can be met.

ACE Green Recycling will use proprietary hydrometallurgical recycling processes for both lead-acid batteries (LAB) and lithium-ion batteries (LIB), with recovery rates reported to be higher than 99% and 98% respectively.

The proposed facilities covered under the agreement were expected to come online in 2024.

Once operational, these facilities were estimated to be able to produce 1.6 million tonnes per year of recycled metals containing lead, lithium, nickel and cobalt. The plants were said to have total processing capacity for 250,000 tpy of LAB and 47,000 tpy of LIB.

The pricing of black mass, the output from EV battery recycling, is challenging due to variations in the concentrations of the metals incorporated.

Pricing is typically based on the nickel and cobalt content in individual production runs or lots. There could be some standardization in benchmarking the price, but the product itself will always vary because different refining processes will be sensitive to different impurities.

Fastmarkets’ price assessments for lithium hydroxide monohydrate, cobalt hydroxide and London Metal Exchange nickel could provide the basis on which to price a standardized EV battery, according to analysis by Fastmarkets’ research team.

“Our partnership with ACE furthers our objective of creating a leading, global circularity platform for battery metals,” Kunal Sinha, head of recycling at Glencore, said.

“These recycling parks will not only provide a unique domestic, but also regional, solution for furthering circularity in batteries – both high and low voltage,” he added. “The partnership will also support our ambition to become a net-zero total emissions company [under Scope 1, 2 and 3] by 2050.”

Glencore is one of the world’s largest natural resource companies and a leading producer of metals for the production of batteries. ACE Green Recycling is a global battery recycling technology and production company.

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