Glencore, Managem partner to recover cobalt, lithium, nickel from recycled batteries

26th January 2022 By: Donna Slater - Creamer Media Contributing Editor and Photographer

Glencore, Managem partner to recover cobalt, lithium, nickel from recycled batteries

Cobalt metal nuggets
Photo by: Bloomberg

Diversified miners Glencore and Managem have entered into a partnership to produce cobalt from recycled cobalt, nickel and lithium at Managem’s Compagnie de Tifnout Tiranimine (CTT) hydrometallurgical refinery in Morocco.

Glencore and CTT intend to enter into a five-year tolling agreement for 1 200 t/y of recycled cobalt, as well as nickel hydroxide and lithium carbonate.

The partnership forms part of Glencore and Managem’s commitments to support the electric vehicle industry in achieving its metals recycling targets.

The partnership is conditional on a feasibility study to assess the commercial viability of modifying and deploying the CTT refinery for recovering cobalt, nickel and lithium from black mass – a refinery feed comprised of recycled lithium-ion batteries.

The feasibility study will focus on achieving high recoveries and a low carbon footprint. It is expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter.

Glencore will leverage its long-established ability in sourcing and recycling cobalt and nickel-bearing products at its Canadian (Sudbury) and Norwegian (Nikkelverk) operations to supply cobalt-containing black mass to the CTT refinery.

Managem will provide the lithium-ion batteries recycling technology developed and tested in the pilot plant at the Reminex research and development centre. This technology enables a high recovery rate of cobalt, nickel and lithium from black mass.

Managem chairperson and CEO Imad Toumi says demand for cobalt is expected to increase significantly in the next decade, largely driven by the green energy transition.

“Most actors in the supply chain seek to ensure sustainably sourced materials and we strongly believe recycling will play a crucial role in addressing this demand.

“Managem is fully engaged in supporting the global circular economy through cobalt, nickel and lithium at the same time as mining cobalt with the highest corporate social responsibility standards.

“This partnership with Glencore represents an exciting step up in our development in this field,” he says.

“As the world seeks to address the challenge of climate change, primary/recycled cobalt and other future-facing commodities are set to play a pivotal role in decarbonising energy consumption and delivering the electric vehicle revolution,” says Glencore head cobalt trader David Brocas.

Meanwhile, the CTT hydrometallurgical plant will benefit from at least 90% wind-generated power.

Glencore will market the recycled products to its global network of portable electronics and automotive customers, as part of its continued commitment to support the transition to a low carbon economy, and to realise its own ambition of net-zero total emissions by 2050.