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Recycler TES signs deal with Port of Rotterdam to recycle lithium-ion batteries

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Recycler TES signs deal with Port of Rotterdam to recycle lithium-ion batteries

Highlights

Operations to start by late 2022

Shredding capacity of up to 10,000 mt/year

Facility already has licenses

E-waste recycler TES has inked a deal with the Port of Rotterdam to secure a 10,000 mt/year facility at the port to recycle lithium-ion batteries by late 2022, which would be the first such facility in the Netherlands.

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TES said July 5 the 10,000 square meter facility is strategically located adjacent to the waterways of the port and had the option to extend onto a neighboring plot to increase the size to more than 40,000 square meters. The unit already had a basic waste license to receive, store and forward lithium batteries, as well as to manage electric vehicle batteries and battery production scrap.

The company said it also had a license to shred alkaline batteries.

TES already runs two other lithium battery recycling facilities in Grenoble, France, and in Singapore, with the latter having opened in March with a daily capacity of 14 mt -- equal to 280,000 smartphone batteries.

It said the Grenoble site was the first to use an inert shredding process to safely crush lithium batteries, and the company has also developed a number of key patents for hydrometallurgical processes at the plant.

TES said the combined capacities of the three facilities would make it one of the largest service providers of lithium battery recycling globally, as well as one of the largest generators of commodity materials produced from the battery recycling process.

"This deal is part of an ongoing commitment from TES to improve the collection and recycling of portable and industrial batteries in Europe and supports the European Union's goals laid out in the European Green Deal," the company said.

It added that it was also a strategic move in preparation for an expected rise in global demand for lithium batteries as automakers increase EV outputs, which TES said were predicted to increase 14-fold by 2030 from 2018 levels.

Plug-in light duty EV sales in Western Europe are expected to rise to 3.95 million units in 2025 and 6.4 million units by 2030, up from 1.3 million units in 2020, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics.

TES said according to figures from the European Commission, the EU could account for 17% of the global demand for lithium batteries by 2030, the second-highest share worldwide.

'Close the loop'

Thomas Holberg, TES global vice president of battery operations, said the new Port of Rotterdam site would have up to 10,000 mt/year of shredding capacity once up and running, as well as a subsequent hydrometallurgical process that focuses on the recovery of nickel, cobalt, and lithium as a precursor feedstock for the battery industry.

"Our mission at TES is to 'close the loop' on lithium battery production by encouraging reuse and improving the collection and recycling of the scarce metals and materials they contain ... we are choosing to invest in our future now and to increase capacity in the European battery recycling supply chain," Holberg said.

Port of Rotterdam CEO Allard Castelein said the port was not only toward becoming a net-zero CO2 emissions port and industry in 2050, but also looking at ways to make the industry more circular.

"Therefore, besides working on projects regarding, for instance, hydrogen and carbon capture and storage, it is important to take significant steps to establish circular production processes. The TES project in Rotterdam is exactly that. This could very well become the largest European facility for recycling batteries from electric cars," Castelein said.

There has been a big push to increase recycling in Europe in response to the rapid rise of EVs.

In April, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development announced that Poland will become the site of the first facility in the EU for recycling car batteries and it was loaning up to Eur25 million ($30 million) for the facility.

Later in the same month, Johnson Matthey and Swedish recycler Stena Recycling Group agreed to develop an efficient value chain in Europe for recycling lithium ion batteries and cell manufacturing materials.

In May, French mining and metallurgy group Eramet and Suez Group announced that they had agreed to expand their efforts in the area of recycling end-of-life lithium-ion EV batteries in Europe, with Rio Tinto partnering with European battery technology and manufacturing company InoBat a few days later to establish a battery making and recycling value chain in Serbia.

Most recently, Fortum announced plans to invest Eur24 million to build a new hydrometallurgical plant in Finland at Harjavalta for operation from 2023 to expand its overall lithium-ion battery recycling capacity.