Update: Aqua Metals invests in lithium-ion battery recycler

Lead-acid battery recycling technology firm also leases space to Nevada-based LiNiCo.

February 17, 2021

McCarran, Nevada-based Aqua Metals says it has invested $2 million, paid in Aqua Metals stock shares, for a 10 percent ownership stake in LiNiCo Corp., which it describes in its Securities and Exchange Commission filing and a press release as a Nevada-based company focused on closed-loop lithium-ion battery recycling.

Aqua Metals says the move is part of its strategy “to strengthen growth by potentially applying AquaRefining intellectual property to lithium-ion battery recycling while [also] meeting its lead recycling commercial guidance.”

Aqua Metals also has clarified that LiNiCo is the firm that has leased, with additional purchase deposits to buy, part of its 136,000-square-foot facility in McCarran, which is located near Reno in northern Nevada.

“This noncore asset disposition was driven by the company’s accelerated focus on its equipment supply and licensing strategy,” the firm says of the leasing arrangement.

Regarding the LiNiCo investment, Steve Cotton, president and CEO of Aqua Metals, comments, “We believe a collaboration strategy with innovative companies that have multi-disciplinary backgrounds in metals, mining, high volume throughput, and hydrometallurgy is the best approach to solving the sustainability challenge of metals recycling, especially with lithium-ion batteries. Forming an eco-network is an important step in our strategy for exploring the expansion of AquaRefining technology to other applications.”

The Aqua Metals press release also spells out the involvement of two more companies in what the firm calls a plan “to form an eco-network that intends to advance best-in-class technologies to recycle lithium-ion batteries at volume, both economically and sustainably.”

The other proposed members of the network include Singapore-based Green Li-ion Pte Ltd. and Virginia City, Nevada-based Comstock Mining Inc. Aqua Metals describes Green Li-ion as being involved in creating a lithium-ion battery recycling technology designed to generate high-purity, high-value cathode ready material. Comstock Mining, says the firm, “is engaged in the systemic valorization of critical metals,” and has agreed to invest in LiNiCo. LiNiCo, meanwhile, is an investor in Green Li-ion.

The lease agreement is structured to allow Aqua Metals to retain use of a portion of the building, which sits on 11.5 acres of land, while also receiving lease revenue starting April 1. Lease payments total up to $1.9 million during the contract term, according to the company. The company leasing the space also has an option to purchase the land and plant “at any time,” Aqua Metals says.

“We are very pleased to have successfully achieved another one of our objectives with this very favorable lease-to-buy agreement for our McCarran facility,” says Cotton. “The agreement removes the plant overhead while allowing us use of space for R&D and product development.”