Glencore International AG, a wholly owned subsidiary of Glencore plc (“Glencore”), a leading producer, recycler, and marketer of nickel and cobalt for the production of electric vehicle batteries and Li-Cycle Holdings Corp. (“Li-Cycle” or the “Company”), an industry leader in lithium-ion battery resource recovery and the leading lithium-ion battery recycler in North America, have signed a Letter of Intent to jointly study the feasibility of, and later, develop a Hub* facility in Portovesme, Italy (the “Portovesme Hub”). The Portovesme Hub would produce critical battery materials, including nickel, cobalt and lithium from recycled battery content.
The Portovesme Hub will leverage Li-Cycle’s state-of-the-art hydrometallurgical technology and is expected to be the largest producer of sustainable battery grade products in Europe.
Located in Sardinia, Italy, the Portovesme metallurgical complex consists of a lead-zinc and hydrometallurgical facility which first started operations in 1929. The Portovesme site has a range of substantial existing infrastructure, including access to a port, utilities, processing equipment from the hydrometallurgical plant and an experienced workforce.
Glencore and Li-Cycle will jointly commence a definitive feasibility study (“DFS”) for this project within 60 days from this announcement. The DFS is expected to be completed by mid-2024. Subject to a final investment decision, the project will proceed to construction with commissioning of the Portovesme Hub expected to commence in late 2026 to early 2027.
Kunal Sinha, Global Head of Recycling, Glencore, commented: “This project, combined with our existing footprint in primary supply as well as recycling of battery metals, underpins our ambition to become the circularity partner of choice for the European battery and EV industry. This also marks a significant step in our collaboration with Li-Cycle, a preferred partner in the lithium-ion battery recycling space.
“Establishing a Hub through the re-purposing of our Portovesme site, which could become the first Glencore asset to produce battery-grade lithium, will enable us to truly close the loop for our European OEM and gigafactory customers across all aspects of the supply chain. It will shorten delivery times, reduce emissions by minimising the distance of the freight routes and support Italy and Europe’s ambitions to be a global leader in the circular economy.”
Tim Johnston, Co-founder and Executive Chairman of Li-Cycle, commented: “The planned Portovesme Hub is a landmark project for Europe’s battery recycling industry and is expected to be the largest source of recycled battery-grade lithium on the Continent. We are excited to expand our global strategic partnership with Glencore and build on our learnings from the Rochester Hub in support of the rapid growth of the lithium-ion battery ecosystem in an environmentally friendly manner.
“Li-Cycle’s expansion in Europe aligns with our modular rollout strategy, as we replicate our successful North American model, which mirrors customer demand and commercial contracting with a strategically located pre-processing Spoke network and centralized post-processing Hub.”
Glencore and Li-Cycle also anticipate forming a 50/50 joint venture that would repurpose part of the existing Glencore metallurgical complex in Portovesme to create the Portovesme Hub. This would enable a cost-efficient and expedited development plan. The project also contemplates competitive long-term financing from Glencore to fund Li-Cycle’s share of the capital investment.
Once operational, the Portovesme Hub is expected to have processing capacity of up to 50,000 to 70,000 tonnes of black mass annually, or the equivalent of up to 36 GWh of lithium-ion batteries. The black mass processed at the Portovesme Hub is expected to be supplied from Li-Cycle’s growing Spoke network in Europe and through Glencore’s commercial network. The Portovesme Hub is expected to be the first facility of its kind and scale to come online in Europe. Together with Li-Cycle’s Spoke network, and Glencore’s battery circularity platform, this facility would enable Europe to get one step closer to closing the loop on manufacturing scrap, as well as end-of-life batteries, fully within Europe, using hydrometallurgical processes.
The Portovesme Hub, once operational, is expected to provide significant benefits to both Li-Cycle and Glencore, by enabling an accelerated pathway to a Europe-based post-processing facility with low capital intensity due to the significant existing infrastructure, equipment, and experienced workforce at the Portovesme site.