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Cost competitive process for recycling Cobalt from end of life Li-ion batteries

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CoReco (Cost competitive process for recycling Cobalt from end of life Li-ion batteries)

Reporting period: 2019-06-01 to 2019-11-30

Cobalt market demand will reach 77,000 tons by 2025, driven by Li-ion battery and electrical vehicles production growth.
But, roughly 70% of the Cobalt supply comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo, which leads to steep fluctuations of the material market price (currently fixed at 32.750 €/ton but with a peak of 85.000 €/ton in 2018). Indeed, Cobalt is included in the list of Critical Raw Materials for Europe (high supply risk and high economic importance).
This is the reason why cobalt providers and users are looking for new sources to satisfy the rising market demand for the metal, mainly driven by the electrical vehicles penetration.

CoReco is an innovative and cost competitive process able to recover Cobalt, Nickel, Manganese and Copper contained in the Black Mass, which is a residue of the Lithium-ion spent batteries.
The process is able to recover 98% of the metals contained in the Black Mass and to reach > 99% purity of the Cobalt for reuse as secondary raw material for the battery manufacturing.
The compactness and low CAPEX of the plant makes CoReco the most competitive recycling solution on the market.
The Phase 1 project is divided in:

1- Technical Feasibility Study – new tests on the process unit are made to confirm the performance of CoReco. A pilot plant is designed, vendors selected and investment needs quantified. CAPEX and OPEX for the full-scale industrial plant are evaluated.
2- Business Feasibility Study - a market survey is delivered to verify the market dimension and to identify the ongoing initiatives of the main car manufacturers in the Lithium batteries recycling. A detailed evaluation of competitors is made, as well as a patentability analysis to verify Ecomet Refining’s freedom to operate. The business model and the go-to-market strategy are delivered together with the risk assessment, contingency plants and IPR strategy. Key stakeholders for technology validation and industrialization are met and involved in the initiative.

The main achievements and outcomes demonstrate how CoReco innovative process is able to meet the proposed Business and Technical targets, and highlighted the main improvements and activities still needed to fill the current gap to the market.
CoReco represents a substantial improvement in the state of the art, able to overcome the current limits of Black Mass treatment processes.
Currently there are no solution on the market able to recycle metals from black mass at high purity and competitive price: CoReco will be the first process able to achieve a cost of recovery well below the metals market prices.
Next steps in the development process will be:
• submitting a EIC Accelerator project with the scope to achieve the EU grant and speed-up the pre-industrial validation;
• validating a pilot plant using Black Mass provided by key players in the sector;
• promote and industrialize CoReco, and implement the Go-to-Market strategy.
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