Li-Cycle Holdings Corp. (Toronto, Ont., Canada), a leading global lithium-ion battery resource recovery company, and Glencore International AG, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Glencore plc (London), a leading producer, recycler, and marketer of nickel and cobalt which is required for the production of lithium-ion batteries, announced plans for a two-phase approach to the Portovesme Hub project in Sardinia, Italy to expedite the production of battery-grade lithium carbonate.
Phase 1 is designed to process up to 11,000 tonnes of black mass annually and, subject to receipt of all final regulatory approvals and definitive agreements, is expected to start operations in the first half of 2024, accelerating the recovery of lithium carbonate and strengthening Li-Cycle’s first-mover advantage in Europe. The capital efficient Phase 1 project is expected to produce up to 1,500 tonnes of lithium carbonate, as well as up to 3,000 tonnes of contained nickel and up to 500 tonnes of contained cobalt per year.
The previously announced Portovesme Hub project plan (now “Phase 2”) remains the same. The Company expects the Phase 2 facility to have 50,000 to 70,000 tonnes of black mass processing capacity, and to produce up to 16,500 tonnes of lithium carbonate, as well as up to 18,000 tonnes of contained nickel and 2,250 tonnes of contained cobalt per year. Phase 2 is expected to be the final long-term plan and capacity for the facility. The Portovesme Hub is being designed to be able to process all forms of lithium-ion based black mass, including lithium iron phosphate (LFP) materials.
“We are excited to accelerate our plans with Glencore to establish clean, post-processing refining capacity for recycled lithium-ion batteries in Europe,” said Tim Johnston, Li-Cycle’s Executive Chair and co-founder. “Phase 1 of the Portovesme Hub is expected to come online at unprecedented speed and to expedite the pathway to create the largest source of sustainable recycled battery-grade products on the continent to support a circular lithium-ion battery supply chain. Li-Cycle continues to strengthen its first mover advantage in Europe and support our growing commercial customer base in qualifying for European Union regulations with our local, sustainable recycled content.”
“The development of the Hub with Li-Cycle at Glencore’s Portovesme site is progressing well, underpinned by strong endorsement from multiple internal and external stakeholders,” said Kunal Sinha, Global Head of Recycling for Glencore. “The project, combined with our existing footprint in the primary supply, as well as recycling of battery metals, is a core tenet of our ambition to become the circularity partner of choice with Li-Cycle for the European battery and EV industry. Specifically, this multi-phase approach to the development of the Hub allows us to start to close the loop for battery materials in Europe as early as the first half of 2024, while we work towards designing and building Phase 2.”
The black mass processed at Phase 1 and Phase 2 is expected to be supplied from Li-Cycle’s European Spoke recycling network and Glencore’s commercial network. This strategic collaboration aims to support the creation of a local, closed-loop battery supply chain. Notably, Li-Cycle has recently commenced operations at its first European Spoke in Germany, the largest Spoke in the Company’s portfolio and one of the largest facilities of its kind on the European continent.
Phase 1 and Phase 2 will utilize existing infrastructure and equipment at Glencore’s existing Portovesme metallurgical complex and leverage Li-Cycle’s innovative hydrometallurgical process to produce critical battery materials, including nickel, cobalt and lithium, from recycled battery content. By leveraging the existing Portovesme facility, development plans are expected to be expedited with lower capital costs.
Li-Cycle and Glencore anticipate forming a 50/50 joint venture for the Portovesme Hub, which also contemplates competitive long-term financing from Glencore to fund Li-Cycle’s share of the capital investment. For Phase 1, Li-Cycle will provide technical expertise and oversight, with Portovesme and other technical and operational experts from the wider Glencore group directing the build and operation. The Definitive Feasibility Study for Phase 2 is progressing well and is scheduled to be completed by mid-2024. Subject to a final investment decision and receipt of all necessary regulatory approvals, the full-scale Phase 2 Portovesme Hub is expected to advance to construction and begin commissioning in late 2026 to early 2027.