Lithium battery recycling is focus of joint venture

Metallica Commodities Corp. and SungEel HiTech announce joint venture to recycle lithium-ion batteries.

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White Plains, New York-based Metallica Commodities Corp. LLC (MCC) and South Korea-based SungEel HiTech Co. Ltd. have announced the establishment of a joint venture that will target the recycling of lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) in the North American market.

The joint venture, SungEel MCC Americas LLC (SMA), will draw upon MCC’s global network of agents, traders, suppliers, electronic recyclers and customers and SungEel’s LIB recycling process, which it describes as proprietary.

SMA indicates it initially will recycle more than 3,000 tons of spent lithium-ion batteries annually and will employ some 100 people. Cobalt, nickel, lithium and copper will be recovered from the recycled batteries through what the firm calls “an efficient and environmentally friendly process.” The recovered metals can be used to make new lithium-ion batteries or in other industrial applications.

The consumption of both materials has outpaced supply in recent years, with the United States lacking local production of both, according to SMA. Cobalt and lithium are sometimes defined as the “exotic” metals found in LIBs. More than 50 percent of the world’s cobalt reserves are found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and more than 50 percent of the world’s lithium is found in South America’s “lithium triangle,” which straddles borders between Argentina, Bolivia and Chile.

 “We are excited to partner with SungEel to bring environmentally friendly LIB recycling to the North American market,” says Danish Mir, chief operating officer of MCC. “We believe SMA will revolutionize the e-waste recycling and energy markets, create well-paying jobs and bring the Americas to the forefront of the renewable energy movement.”

“SungEel HiTech Co. Ltd., based on internationally recognized leading recycling technologies, has a great opportunity to challenge the North American recycling market with MCC, which has built a wide network,” comments Yi, Kang Myung, CEO of SungEel HiTech Co. Ltd. “SMA will expand into North and Central America to become a leader in the LIB recycling market and will expand its eco-friendly recycling process based on solid technology.”

Established in 2000, SungEel describes itself as one of the few major recyclers of LIBs worldwide. The company recycles more than 8,000 tons of spent LIBs and scraps annually. The firm indicates that to prepare for an expected increase in LIBs caused by the growth in the electronic vehicle industry, its current capacity is undergoing a five-fold expansion by 2021.

MCC describes itself as a group of more than 115 people focused on the commercial recycling of nonferrous concentrates, residues and byproducts resulting from the mining, metallurgical, recycling and processing industries. The company has operations or offices in the United States, Canada, France, Guyana, Peru, Tanzania and the United Kingdom.