Glencore and Li-Cycle announce plans for Europe’s largest battery recycling plant

The battery recycling plant located in Portovesme, Italy would be the largest source of recycled battery-grade lithium in Europe.  

Li-Cycle, the leading lithium-ion battery recycler in North America, and Glencore International AG, a leading producer and recycler of critical minerals for the production of lithium-ion batteries, have signed a Letter of Intent to develop a battery recycling plant in Portovesme, Italy. The plant would produce critical battery materials, such as lithium, nickel, and cobalt, from recycled batteries.  

The new battery recycling plant is expected to be the largest producer of sustainable battery-grade products in Europe.  

Substantial existing infrastructure

Located in Sardinia, the Portovesme hub consists of a lead-zinc smelter and hydrometallurgical facility which first started operations in 1929. Glencore owns the old lead refinery and aims to convert it into a plant that will help it reuse expensive battery metals.  

The proposed battery recycling plant has access to a port, utilities, processing equipment from the hydrometallurgical facility, and an experienced workforce.  

© shutterstock/Sahan Nuhoglu

“Establishing a Hub through the re-purposing of our Portovesme site, which could become the first Glencore asset to produce battery-grade lithium, will enable us to truly close the loop for our European OEM and gigafactory customers across all aspects of the supply chain,” commented Kunal Sinha, Global Head of Recycling, at Glencore.  

The battery recycling plant could be commissioned by late 2026 or early 2027

The companies will commence a definitive feasibility study for this project within 60 days of the announcement. This is expected to be completed by mid-2024.  

After a final investment decision by the parties, the project will process to construction with commissioning of the Portovesme Hub expected to commence in late 2026 to early 2027. 

Glencore and Li-Cycle also expect to form a joint venture that would repurpose part of the existing Glencore metallurgical complex in Portovesme. This would enable a cost-efficient and expedited development plan.  

Portovesme will be the first facility of its kind and scale to come online in Europe 

Once operational, the battery recycling plant will have a processing capacity of up to 50,000 to 70,000 tonnes of black mass annually, or the equivalent of up to 36 GWh of lithium-ion batteries. The black mass processed at the plant is expected to be supplied from Li-Cycle’s growing Spoke network in Europe and through Glencore’s commercial network. 

Li-Cycle’s Spoke network and Glencore’s battery circularity platform will help Europe to get one step closer to closing the loop on manufacturing scrap and end-of-life batteries.  

Tim Johnston, co-founder and Executive Chair, Li-Cycle, commented: “The planned Portovesme Hub is a landmark project for Europe’s battery recycling industry and is expected to be the largest source of recycled battery-grade lithium on the continent. We are excited to expand our global strategic partnership with Glencore and build on our learnings from the Rochester Hub in support of the rapid growth of the lithium-ion battery ecosystem in an environmentally friendly manner.” 

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