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Veolia to build EV battery recycling plant in UK's West Midlands

Highlights

Operational by Q3 2022 at low levels of capacity

Process 1,000 mt/year of batteries by 2024

Hope to invest further down the line

Resource management company Veolia is building its first electric vehicles battery recycling facility in the UK, the company said in a Jan. 10 statement.

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A company spokesperson told S&P Global Platts that once the plant was operational, it would be able to process 1,000 mt/year of batteries by 2024.

This would amount to around 20% of the UK's end-of-life EV batteries in 2024, which was estimated by Warwick University to be in the region of 5,000 mt.

Veolia said in the statement that the UK was forecast to have 350,000 mt of these batteries by 2040.

The spokesperson told Platts that the plant, which will be built in Minworth, West Midlands, is due to be operational by the third quarter of 2022 at low levels of capacity.

The plant will discharge as well as dismantle batteries and then complete the mechanical and chemical separation recycling processes.

While the exact investment was not given, the spokesperson said the plant had a small investment to become operational for discharging and dismantling and once the best practice for the next processes were determined, Veolia hoped to invest further.

Veolia hopes that by recycling battery materials, it would reduce water consumption, which is heavy in traditional lithium mining, as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions from battery production by up to 50%.

"Many of the materials required for battery manufacturing rely on traditional water and energy intensive processes. It is estimated that 500,000 gallons of water is required to extract 1 mt of lithium using this type of mining," the company said.

Veolia senior executive vice president, Norther Europe zone Gavin Graveson said in the statement that recycling was an important step for the UK to create an ethical and sustainable battery supply chain.

"We will not reach carbon neutrality without increasing our investment and development of new technologies and recycling opportunities. As the demand for EVs increases, we will need this facility - and more like it in the UK - to ensure we don't hit a resource crisis in the next decade," he added.

Veolia also plans to use its global network to establish a full circular economy solution in the next five years to produce battery precursors in Europe, it said.

The company already has a partnership, signed in March 2021, with automaker Renault in France through its consortium with Solvay that is seeking to establish a secure and sustainable supply source for strategic battery metals, such as cobalt, nickel and lithium.

"We are researching the best procedures to produce battery precursors (recycling the end-of-life batteries into pure enough materials to be reused in battery production) and hope this can be achieved and made into a reality in Europe," the spokesperson told Platts.