Proactive Investors | By John Miller.

Envirostream is the only Australian company able to recycle all the energy metals from spent lithium-ion batteries.

Envirostream’s new Melbourne battery recycling plant in operation

Lithium Australia NL (ASX:LIT) has moved to 74% ownership of Melbourne-based leading Australian battery recycler Envirostream as part of a major ramp-up of its energy metals strategy.

The increase in ownership from 23.9% represents another key milestone in the company’s plans to create a circular battery economy in which recycling old lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) is intrinsic.

Envirostream is the only company in Australia with the integrated capacity to collect, sort, shred and separate all components of spent LIBs.

Perfect fit with LIT

This makes it a perfect fit with Lithium Australia’s critical battery metal extraction expertise.

LIT managing director Adrian Griffin said, “Lithium Australia views the acquisition of a controlling interest in Envirostream as not only taking a key position in the recycling of battery metals, but also providing an environmental solution for all Australians that use batteries.

“Following the successful construction and commissioning of Australia’s biggest lithium-ion battery recycling plant, Envirostream can focus on the roll-out of its Australia-wide collection network.”

As part consideration for the acquired interest, Lithium Australia has made a payment to Envirostream of $100,000.

Expanded facilities

Some of these funds are to be used by Envirostream for commissioning the expanded Melbourne battery recycling facilities.

During FY19, Envirostream generated $1.3 million in revenue from recycling 149 tonnes of spent batteries.

The expanded plant, which has the capacity to annually recycle up to 3,000 tonnes of batteries, has been successfully commissioned with first mixed metal dust (MMD) produced.

It is currently being ramped up and optimised.

Envirostream’s next shipment of MMD containing the energy metals cobalt, nickel and lithium is expected later this month.

“Environmentally responsible solutions”

“Together, Lithium Australia and Envirostream are developing environmentally responsible solutions to the mounting problems of spent batteries,” Griffin said.

“Keeping spent batteries from landfill and exporting the energy metals they contain is an Australian imperative.”

Increasing MMD shipments

Envirostream recently announced that it had agreed to increase MMD shipments to SungEel, for refining into cobalt, nickel and lithium chemicals for the production of new LIBs.

Following the acquisition of LIT’s 73.7% interest in Envirostream, Andrew Mackenzie, the founder of Envirostream, will remain as managing director.

Adrian Griffin will be appointed non-executive chairman and Andrew Skalski as a non-executive director of Envirostream.

Solution to LIB disposal

LIT’s MD said, “Closing the loop on the production of battery materials reduces the environmental footprint of the mining and processing aspects inherent in battery production, improves sustainability and prevents the components of spent batteries from leaking into groundwater and oceans as a consequence of their relegation to landfill or transport to other jurisdictions.

“Envirostream can provide an immediate and viable solution to the LIB disposal crisis in this country.”

While rationalising its portfolio of lithium projects, LIT continues with R&D on its proprietary extraction processes for the conversion of all lithium minerals to lithium chemicals.

From those chemicals, LIT plans to produce advanced components for the battery industry globally, and for stationary energy storage systems within Australia.

By uniting resources and innovation, the company seeks to vertically integrate lithium recycling, extraction and processing.

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