Canadian steelmaker Stelco Holdings Inc. is drawing up plans to build a recycling plant for electric vehicles and EV batteries at its Lake Erie Works in Nanticoke, Ont.
The company said Dec. 31 it had signed an agreement with German-Australian firm Primobius to license a two-step recycling process used to shred spent lithium-ion batteries and recover valuable metals for reuse.
Stelco CEO Alan Kestenbaum said the “closed loop system” will expand the Hamilton-based firm’s footprint in automotive, adding new streams of battery materials. The proposed plant will also generate tens of thousands of tons of scrap steel the company can reuse in its steelmaking operations.
“Stelco will be able to recycle end-of-life electric vehicles, convert them into green steel and recover from their batteries high purity metals such as lithium, nickel, cobalt and manganese,” Kestenbaum said in a release.
Primobius, a joint venture made up of German industrial firm SMS Group and Australian speciality metals company Neometals Ltd., commissioned an initial demonstration recycling facility in Europe in December.
The company’s process breaks batteries down into their constituent plastic and metal parts during its first stage. An integrated hydrometallurgical refinery processes the black mass — made up of the valuable lithium, nickel, cobalt and manganese — in phase two, readying it for reuse in new batteries.
Terms of the licensing deal were not disclosed, but Stelco said it will operate under a royalty system unless Primobius exercises its option to acquire between 25 and 50 per cent of the steelmaker’s new EV battery recycling business.
With the agreement in place, the Ontario-based firm plans to begin detailed engineering and permitting for the proposed plant, as well as advance talks with suppliers of end-of-life batteries for feedstock. It did not share projected costs.
Stelco is targeting 2023 for starting up initial operations at the facility in Nanticoke, located alongside Lake Erie about 110 kilometres southwest of Toronto. The proposed site would have capacity to produce close to 20,000 tons of nickel, manganese, cobalt and lithium per year, as well as approximately 40,000 tons of scrap steel.