Multinational commodity trading and mining company, Glencore, and electric vehicle (EV) battery investor, Britishvolt, have entered into a joint venture (JV) to develop an ecosystem for battery recycling in the UK that will assist in reusing expensive key materials such as cobalt and lithium.

The plant, which is expected to launch in mid-2023, will be constructed in Northfleet, east of London, at Glencore’s Britannia Refined Metals operations – which will continue its current production and trading operations – and will process all of Britishvolt’s manufacturing scrap from its Gigafactory facility in Blyth, southeast Northumberland.

Once completed, the plant will be capable of processing a minimum of 10,000 tons of lithium-ion batteries per year, including battery manufacturing scrap, portable electronics batteries, and full EV packs.

“This project adds much to our existing relationship, with Glencore supplying Britishvolt with responsibly-sourced cobalt,” stated Britishvolt Global COO, Timon Orlob, adding, “Recycling is key to a successful energy transition and has always been a major part of Britishvolt’s business model.”

The partnership will also seek to develop other recycling activities, with a specific target of refining black mass – the remnants of a battery that has been processed for recycling – into battery grade raw materials.

“Both companies are united in their ambition to further the energy and mobility transition. Glencore has decades of recycling experience across multiple disciplines,” David Brocas, Glencore Head Cobalt Trader said, adding that, “This recycling partnership complements our long-term supply agreement for responsible cobalt from our operations in Norway and the Democratic Republic of Congo.”

Expected to lead to the creation of a number of high-tech jobs in the UK, the recycling plant will employ up to 400 people and is being developed with the long-term aim of being powered entirely by renewable energy.