Glencore will build a new plant to recycle lithium-ion batteries in the U.K. as part of a deal to help Britishvolt shore up its supply chain as it races to develop Britain’s first large-scale electric-vehicle battery plant.
Metals giant Glencore — best known as a miner and commodities trader — will move further into recycling with the expansion of its Britannia Refined Metals plant in southern England, it said Wednesday. The facility has historically been a leading re-user of lead-acid batteries found in combustion-powered cars, but will expand to take in at least 10,000 tons of lithium-ion batteries a year, including manufacturing scrap from Britishvolt.
Surging sales of electric vehicles have driven prices for battery metals sharply higher over the past year, threatening carmakers’ margins and sparking fears of a shortage of mined raw materials including lithium, cobalt and nickel. Car manufacturers and industry analysts expect recycled batteries to play a vital role in addressing supply constraints over the long-term.
Glencore expects the new lithium-ion processing circuit to come online by mid-2023, ahead of the planned opening of Britishvolt’s plant a few months later, the companies said in a joint statement.
“By partnering with Glencore, we are locking in supply and de-risking the project,” Orral Nadjari, Britishvolt’s founder and chief executive officer, said in the statement. “This is a huge step in the right direction for Britishvolt as we look to accelerate the transition to a low carbon society.”
Britishvolt started work on the 2.6 billion-pound ($3.5 billion) battery plant last year, and last month the U.K. government backed the project with an unspecified amount from its Automotive Transformation Fund, a 1 billion-pound program to help build factories that can produce batteries at scale. Glencore took an undisclosed stake in the company and agreed to supply it with primary cobalt last year.
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