Electra Battery Materials will continue processing black mass material at its Ontario refinery complex following a trial that yielded improved recoveries of high value elements, higher metal content in saleable products produced and reduced use of reagents, Electra said Oct. 2.
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Black mass is an intermediate material produced from the dismantling, shredding and recycling of lithium-ion batteries. The product contains multiple base metals, battery metals and other elements such as lithium, nickel, cobalt, manganese, copper and graphite. Through the processing of black mass, these metals and elements can be extracted and refined into battery-grade materials.
The production of black mass has become increasingly important as a supplement to virgin material supply to support battery supply chains.
"Recovery rates for nickel, cobalt, and manganese continue to improve along with enhancements to our hydrometallurgical process and reductions in reagent consumption," Electra CEO Trent Mell said in a statement. "As we accelerate our black mass recycling strategy, our focus has broadened to include upstream battery scrap shredding as well as upgrading our refined products to a battery-grade quality."
The company has processed 40 mt of black mass material to date it said, adding about 20 mt of nickel-cobalt mixed hydroxide precipitate product has been shipped to customers. Electra began its black mass trial in December and announced its first customer shipment of nickel-cobalt MHP in July.
With the decision to continue processing black mass material, Electra now plans to further enhance its process and target battery-grade quality products, Mark Trevisiol, vice president of project development said.
Electra in August said it planned to accelerate its black mass recycling strategy with the development of a permanent 2,500 mt/year recycling refinery as it continues construction of its cobalt sulfate refinery project in Ontario.
Platts, part of S&P Global Commodity Insights, launched four US spot physical black mass price assessments in late August aimed at bringing greater transparency to pricing of the battery raw materials market.
Ni-Co black mass DDP US cobalt payables were last assessed at 65%, basis Platts Daily Cobalt Cathode DDP US Sept. 29.
Platts assessed nickel payables at 65% basis LME nickel Sept. 29, with both assessments flat since launching Aug. 29.
The above US assessments were based on the Platts specifications of minimum 3% lithium, minimum 5% cobalt, and minimum 10% nickel content in black mass.
US DDP lithium payables were assessed flat at 0% Sept. 29. The payables also have remained at this level since the price was launched Aug. 29.
Considering the spot market value of respective battery metals, the outright Platts Ni-Co black mass price was calculated at $2,471/mt DDP US Sept. 29.