A rendering of a Primobius demonstration battery recycling plant under construction in Hilchenbach, Germany
A rendering of a Primobius demonstration battery recycling plant under construction in Hilchenbach, Germany. Source: Primobius

Plans to build a 20,000-tonne facility for end-of-life car battery recycling include a possible future-proofing capacity expansion to account for growing battery demand

Hamilton-based steel company Stelco and Primobius, a joint venture between the Australian company Neometals and the German SMS Group, announced an agreement this week to build a North American facility to recover and recycle metals from lithium-ion batteries.

Each company will finance half of the operation and Primobius will supply the plant, which will be built in the immediate vicinity of a planned automotive recycling operation to recycle battery cells from scrap and end-of-life cars obtained in North America. While no location has been announced for the new facility, Stelco has for many years been based in Hamilton, Ont., and operates a steel plant there that supplies the automotive sector.

According to Primobius, Stelco will procure the used batteries and is planning, “collaborations with various major automotive manufacturers in the area of end-of-life vehicle recycling and the recovery of recyclables.”

"Recycling of cell production scrap and end-of-life lithium-ion batteries"
Primobius “Recycling of cell production scrap and end-of-life lithium-ion batteries” chart. Source: Primobius

Boosting recycling capacity in North America

The North American facility will have a nominal annual processing capacity of 20,000 tonnes and will be identical in construction to a demonstration plant currently being built by Primobius at the SMS Group site in Hilchenbach, Germany.

The two companies are also actively planning for the possibility of a capacity expansion for the plant, in preparation for the likelihood of a drastic increase in battery volume. While a letter of intent is signed for the joint venture, it remains conditional as both partners exchange information and conduct due diligence.

“We are very encouraged by the fast commercial progress being made by Primobius,” Primobius CEO Horst Krenn commented in a press release. “A cooperation with Stelco marks another significant milestone for Primobius as we set a foot into the North American market. The fact that we more and more arouse the interest in the market with our recycling technology reflects the status of our project and the industrial scalability of our recycling solution.”

This announcement follows the recent news that Li-Cycle, another Ontario-based company, has been contracted to recycle battery scrappage from GM’s three-million square foot Ultium plant in Ohio.

Editor’s note: this story was corrected on June 4, 2021 to reflect Stelco is no longer owned by U.S. Steel or operating under the U.S. Steel Canada name.