Lithium Australia develops battery recovery process

Lithium Australia has developed a process that recovers metals from spent lithium-ion batteries (LIB), with nickel and cobalt recoveries estimated at 90 per cent.

Lithium Australia Managing Director Adrian Griffin said establishing a supply stream from recycled batteries would help facilitate lithium-ion sustainability, and reduce the number of batteries sent to landfill.

“Lithium Australia’s ability to recover and refine the lithium in spent LIBs puts it in a unique position, since few current commercial recycling processes do this, rather, the
lithium is generally discharged to flue gas or slag during smelting processes,” Mr Griffin said.

“Lithium Australia’s process is based on lower heat inputs and retention of the lithium, which is recovered hydrometallurgically.”

Mr Griffin said recoveries of roughly 85 per cent had also been achieved in test work with the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.

According to a Lithium Australia statement, the company aim to produce high-purity lithium phosphate as a precursor for the production of cathode materials.

“This will be accomplished using the company’s proprietary lithium phosphate refining process,” the statement reads.

“Commercial investigation by Lithium Australia also found the potential to develop a nickel/cobalt concentrate as an alternate feed source for conventional refining.”

Mr Griffin said successfully recovering a precursor of high purity for the production of new LIBs, from material otherwise destined for landfill, is a huge step forwards for the battery industry.

“Lithium Australia, together with its partner Envirostream Australia, is investigating the commercial potential of this breakthrough,” Mr Griffin said.

Right now we’re in discussion with consumers of lithium, nickel and cobalt – both within Australia and overseas – and we see huge potential for a local battery recycling industry.”

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LG Chem partners with Envirostream

LG Chem, a South Korean lithium battery manufacturer, has partnered with Envirostream to develop safe and innovative recycling solutions and reduce battery waste.

LG Chem Australia General Manger Jamie Allen said Envirostream would be LG Chem’s exclusive battery recycling partner in Australia.

“According to research conducted by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, only 2 per cent of Australia’s annual 3300 tons of lithium-ion battery waste is recycled, with waste predicted to grow by at least 300 per cent each year by 2036,” Mr Allen said.

“This valuable partnership aims to develop safe and innovative management solutions to increase Australia’s low recovery rates concerning batteries, which is an increasing threat to the Australian environment.”

Mr Allen said LG Chem and Envirostream’s partnership is expected to elevate battery recycling systems in the country.

“LG Chem batteries were originally sent overseas for recycling or left in landfills,” Mr Allen said.

“However, with Envirostream’s ISO 14001 accredited modular, 95 per cent of the resources from end-of-life batteries can be safely recovered before being sent to metal and battery manufacturers to be converted into raw materials for new battery production.”

Mr Allen said the initiative is the first step towards achieving LG Chem’s environmental mission and bringing a truly circular economy to its Australian operations.

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Recycling company wins Governor of Victoria export award

Lithium battery processing company Envirostream Australia has won the Regional Exporter Award in the 2018 Governor of Victoria Export Awards (GOVEA).

The awards are open to a range of industry sectors, including the waste and recycling industry and showcase some of the state’s most successful and innovative exporters.

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The company recovers 95 per cent of the materials contained in energy storage battery and sells the steel, copper and aluminium into national markets to be manufactured into new projects.

It began operating recycling facility in the Melbourne suburb of Campbellfield which is able to recover 40 tonnes of batteries per month on each processing line.

Envirostream has partnered with Planet Ark and other stakeholders to develop a battery collection and recycling program that uses battery recycling  and high material recovery.

“We believe this model will challenge the status quo in the recycling industry by adding value in Australia before exporting. This model creates jobs, decreases the cost to recycle and increases the recycling rate of batteries,” Envirostream Australia Director Andrew Mackenzie said.

The GOVEA are open to all Victorian exporters, regardless of size or total export sales.

Winners of the awards are automatically placed as finalists in the national Australian Export Awards.

The Winners:

  • Exporter of the Year – Leica Biosystems
  • Export Award for Innovation Excellence – Sealite
  • Emerging Exporter Award – FitMyCar
  • Victorian Women in International Business Award – Dr Ewa Douroux, Business Services Manager from Leica Biosystems
  • Agribusiness Award – Hussey and Company
  • Business Services Award – OMC International
  • Creative Industries Award – FanHubMedia
  • eCommerce Award – DPP Pharmaceuticals
  • Education and Training Award – IDP Education
  • Environmental Solutions Award – GeoFabrics Australasia
  • Digital Technologies Award – Catapult
  • Health and Biotechnology Award – Leica Biosystems
  • Manufacturing Award – Bosch Australia
  • Minerals, Energy, and Related Services Award – Business For Millennium Development
  • Regional Exporter Award – Envirostream Australia
  • Small Business Award – Cornerstone Solutions

Pictured Left to Right: Victorian Trade Minister Philip Dalidakis, Envirostream National Development Manager John Polhill, Governor of Victoria Linda Dessau. 

ACOR call for $150M into regional recycling

The Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR) is urging the federal government to grow regional Australia’s recycling industry with a one-off investment of $150 million.

The investment would go towards better sorting, increased reprocessing, community education and government procurement of recycled content product.

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ACOR Chief Executive Officer Peter Shmigel said recycling has a good base in regional Australia, which can be grown for more jobs and economic value in country areas.

“It’s one of the readily accessible ways to diversify regional economies and make them more resilient against droughts and global market forces,” he said.

“Our industry already has a good place in the bush including lube oil recycling, battery recycling, tyre recycling, industrial plastics recycling and consumer packaging recycling in country areas.”

Mr Shmigel said an independent report from MRA Consulting showed investment in local recycling could lead to the creation of 500 jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“We can use waste plastics and glass that can’t go back into bottles as part of asphalt in government-funded road projects,” Mr Shmigel said.

“Roads are the biggest asset in country areas and they can be recycled content rather than virgin materials at competitive cost and quality – if governments positively procure for that,” he said.

Mr Shmigel said using recycled content materials in the Snowy 2.0 scheme alone would massively contribute to more jobs and deliver on the community’s recycling expectations.

ACOR members with operations in regional areas include Southern Oil Refinery, Kurrajong Recycling, Re-Group, Visy, Envirostream, Tomra, SIMS Metal Management, ResourceCo, O-I and Downer Group.

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