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Cost study supports Neometals battery recycling plant

Updated: Apr 23

Emerging sustainable battery materials producer Neometals says it has completed an engineering cost study for the hydrometallurgical refinery section of its Primobius lithium-ion battery recycling facility.

Primobius is the joint venture (JV) company owned equally by Neometals and SMS group, which has installed plants in nearly every country in the world. The JV was set up to co-fund the commercialisation of Neometals’ lithium-ion battery recycling technology and its primary business model is the sale of recycling plants under technology licensing agreements to generate a portfolio of battery material royalties.

The lithium-ion battery recycling business is set up as a hub and spoke model, where the hydrometallurgical refinery section of the recycling facility is the hub and the shredding plant is the spoke.

The hub refines recovered cathode-active material of nickel, cobalt, manganese and lithium, known as “black mass”, that is produced from the spoke to produce the crystalline nickel, cobalt and lithium products used to make new lithium-ion batteries. The engineering cost study was for the hub section of the 21,000 tonnes per annum, or about 50 tonnes per day, Primobius lithium-ion battery recycling facility.

Neometals says the study estimated, within a 25 per cent accuracy, total capital costs of €274 million (AU$452 million), including a 15 per cent contingency and an annual operating cost of €56 million (AU$92.3 million). It brings the estimated capital cost of the fully-integrated spoke and hub to €377 million (AU$621.3 million), with annual operating costs estimated at €83 million (AU$136.8 million), or €3973 (AU$6547.2 million) per tonne of lithium-ion battery fed into the spoke per year.

Management pointed out that further evaluation work will be needed to determine the true viability of future recycling plant deployments and to more accurately define Primobius’ business growth potential.

“Successful completion of the Hub ECS enables our current and future customers and partners to quantify the economic benefits of Primobius’ sustainable ‘closed loop’ LiB recycling plants. Primobius is expeditiously advancing towards product readiness for its ~50tpd recycling plants and is anticipating our maiden plant award this quarter from Mercedes Benz for an integrated 10tpd plant.” Neometals managing director Chris Reed

Having completed the engineering cost study, the company believes Primobius can now demonstrate the economics of its integrated lithium-ion battery recycling plant packages to existing customers, partners and new customers. It says the study provides greater transparency on commercial economics, so that Primobius can offer mechanical plant and equipment supply contracts for the 10-tonne-per day integrated spoke and hub lithium-ion battery recycling facilities.

Neometals says further detailed engineering will now take place to support the 21,000 tonnes per day integrated spoke and hub facilities. In the next six months, it expects to complete more engineering and design work, in conjunction with running additional customer hub demonstration trials.

This company’s lithium-ion battery recycling technology is one of three proprietary environmentally-friendly processing technologies ­– alongside its vanadium recovery and lithium chemicals technologies – that it is commercialising in JV arrangements to produce lithium, nickel, cobalt and vanadium, with a minimal carbon footprint.

Of the three, the lithium product is its estimated as its biggest revenue stream and is expected to be its lowest cost quartile.

Neometals and its partners are recognised internationally for their sustainable approaches that combine industry-leading costs with circular economic principles, reducing the reliance on traditional upstream mining-based supply chains with recycling and waste recovery.

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