Neometals Commissions Lithium Battery Recycling Plant

ASX listed Neometals’ joint venture company, Primobius GmbH, has successfully commissioned stage one of its ground-breaking lithium-ion battery recycling demonstration plant in Germany. The joint venture company is owned 50:50 by Neometals and SMS group GmbH. The partners have developed a proprietary process that focuses on recovering cobalt and other valuable materials from spent and scrap lithium batteries.
Primobius has now built and operated the front-end shredding and beneficiation circuits of the demonstration plant, which is designed to showcase its capability to provide a recycled product for potential customers and to dispose of hazardous waste safely and sustainably from spent lithium batteries.
Based in Hilchenbach, Germany, the recycling plant aims to remove metal electrodes, plastic separators and casings and produce cathode and anode materials for refining. Testing of the demonstration plant will help Neometals and its joint venture partner with further investment decisions in relation to a commercial lithium-ion battery recycling plant.
The recycling facility comprises a fully constructed ‘front-end’ shredding and beneficiation circuit and a ‘back-end’ hydrometallurgical refining circuit which is progressing through mechanical and electrical installation.
Stage one commissioning included charging up the front-end circuit to process both dummy and charged electric vehicle batteries to generate plastic, steel and foil product streams together with intermediate active material known as “black mass”. To date the facility has produced around 1.5 tonnes of black mass, which will be refined in stage two.
Stage two commissioning is scheduled for September with trials set to wrap up in November. The facility also comprises the back-end pyrometallurgical refining circuit, which is currently progressing through mechanical and electrical installation ahead of commissioning in September.
The refinery circuits will be sequentially dry and wet commissioned before black mass is processed in two campaigns. The circuit will produce, amongst other things, high-purity metal sulphate products for evaluation by potential customers, partners and offtakers.
Neometals says the safe commissioning of the front-end is a significant step for Primobius and allows the company to move towards trialling activities with tested systems that have been run in real-world conditions.
Importantly, the fully integrated and continuous trial of the demonstration plant is one of the crucial evaluation activities required by the joint venture owners to make an investment decision on the construction of Primobius’ first commercial lithium-ion battery recycling plant.
Primobius has been nominated for the prestigious German Sustainability Award 2022. These awards are only given to companies that include sustainability in their business model and make effective and transformational contributions with innovative products and services.
Neometals has four core projects with large partners that support the global transition to clean energy and span the battery value chain.
In addition to its lithium-ion battery recycling projects, the company is working with Critical Metals to recover vanadium from processing slag by-products from leading Scandinavian steel maker SSAB.
Neometals shares rocketed yesterday after news of its successful trials on the vanadium recovery project. With an expected boom in electric vehicle uptake and increasing use of lithium-ion batteries in a range of products, disposal of spent batteries will be an increasingly challenging but potentially lucrative activity around the globe – and Neometals looks to have positioned itself at the tip of the spear.