Lithium Australia announced yesterday the first shipment of mixed metal dust (MMD) had left the Envirostream lithium-ion battery recycling plant in Campbellfield, Victoria.
Envirostream, now a subsidiary of Lithium Australia, collects, sorts, shreds and separates various components of spent lithium-ion batteries – everything from power tool to solar batteries; although it hasn’t seen many of the latter yet. That’s a good thing given lithium-ion home solar energy storage in Australia has barely begun.
The end result of the Envirostream process is separated steel, copper, aluminium and MMD; which consists of cobalt, nickel, lithium and graphite (carbon). The mixed metal dust can be used in the manufacture of materials for new batteries.
There wasn’t any detail provided about the size of this first shipment, but it was likely headed overseas. Last month Envirostream signed a memorandum of understanding with South Korean company SungEel HiTech Co., Ltd. The MoU involves the exclusive supply of MMD to Sungeel, which describes itself as the “global leader in lithium ion battery recycling”.
“This shipment from Envirostream’s expanded operation is another important milestone in terms of revenue generation,” said Lithium Australia Managing Director Adrian Griffin. “By acquiring Envirostream and expanding its processing capacity, the Company is developing an environmentally responsible framework for Australian battery consumers”.
Last month, Lithium Australia boosted its stake in Envirostream from 23.9% to 74%. It was lifted again to 84% earlier this month and will ultimately increase to 90%.
The recently upgraded Envirostream facility in Campbellfield has the capacity to recycle up to 3,000 tonnes of batteries annually and the firm also has a facility in New Gisborne. During FY19, Envirostream generated $1.3M in revenue from recycling 149 tonnes of spent lithium-ion batteries.
The next major step for the company is to roll out its nation-wide collection network.
LG Chem’s Exclusive Australian Battery Recycling Partner
Envirostream’s activities have attracted the attention of some major battery storage manufacturers. In June this year, LG Chem announced Envirostream had been chosen to be the company’s exclusive battery recycling partner in Australia.
As for Lithium Australia itself, it aspires to aspires to ‘close the loop’ on the energy-metal cycle. The firm has its sights set on producing components for the global battery industry and selling lithium-ion energy storage systems within Australia. The company is also engaged in research and development of extraction of lithium from mine waste, and processing unused fines from spodumene processing into lithium-based chemicals.