Lithium Australia (ASX: LIT) has joined forces with the country’s leading lithium-ion battery recycling company Envirostream Australia Pty Ltd to develop methods of extracting critical metals from spent batteries.
According to Lithium Australia, currently only 3% of predominantly lithium-ion batteries are recycled in Australia – with the country falling behind the rest of the world in this space.
Presently, Envirostream operates Australia’s only facility for shredding lithium-ion batteries.
From the spent batteries, Envirostream generates a powder containing the critical battery minerals that is then exported for refining.
Lithium Australia is creating a flowsheet to process these powders to liberate the nickel, cobalt, manganese and lithium chemicals required to regenerate battery cathodes. The company is also developing methods for recovering graphite from the lithium-ion battery anode.
“Maximising the recycling of all battery metals, something rarely done effectively, is a target we have achieved in university-controlled testing,” Lithium Australian managing director Adrian Griffin said.
He added the company had not limited its recycling technologies to lithium-ion batteries and has included alkaline batteries with the aim of eliminating all spent batteries from landfill.
Under the partnership with Envirostream, Lithium Australia will acquire an 18.9% stake in the company through four tranches totalling $600,000 in cash and Lithium Australia scrip.
The acquisition is expected to be finalised by mid-August.
Envirostream will use the funds to expand its battery shredding facilities, which will create local jobs and more employment opportunities.
Meanwhile, Lithium Australia will continue refining its flowsheet to recover the critical metals from Envirostream’s powder. The company expects to complete this flowsheet design later this year.
One of the key challenges to battery recycling in Australia, is the country’s inadequate collection network.
As part of the joint venture, Envirostream will roll-out its own collection strategy across Australia to deal with the county’s rapidly increasing amount of spent batteries.
Critical Minerals Strategy
Lithium Australia believes that recycling lithium-ion batteries within Australia could boost the Federal Government’s recently launched Critical Minerals Strategy, which acknowledges the significant nature battery minerals value chain now plays in energy security worldwide.
“Sustainable and ethical supply of critical materials is a global challenge,” Mr Griffin said.
He explained that recovering critical minerals from spent batteries would keep the minerals within Australia’s battery supply chain and underpin ethical and sustainable battery development.
“We are cognizant of the environmental implications of burying such waste and encourage all users of these products to join with us and recycle for the future benefit of the environment,” Mr Griffin said.
“And we have a message for original equipment manufacturers as well – we have a plan, we have the ability, and we have the solution to your long-awaited battery stewardship requirements,” he added.