6 Mar 2020 15:44

Fortum, BASF, Nornickel sign agreement on recycling batteries in Harjavalta

MOSCOW. March 6 (Interfax) - Fortum, BASF, and MMC Norilsk Nickel (Nornickel) have signed a letter of intent on setting up a battery recycling cluster in Harjavalta, Finland, where Nornickel has its NN Harjavalta refining plant, for serving the electric vehicle market, the companies said in a joint statement.

At the end of 2018, Nornickel and BASF signed an agreement on building a site for producing battery materials near the refining plant, intended to provide for 300,000 electric vehicles. Nornickel supplies raw nickel and cobalt, and BASF is investing around 400 million euros in the project. At the time, Nornickel spoke of possibilities of strategic partnership with other players on the battery market, as well as extending production, including by recycling materials from Nornickel's South Cluster in Harjavalta.

Such recycling "would enable a successful 'closed loop' cycle to re-use the critical metals present in used batteries," the statement said. "Using metals from recycled batteries to produce battery materials offers significant CO2 reduction in the production of electric vehicles," the companies said in the statement.

"By recycling valuable metals in lithium-ion batteries we reduce the environmental impact of electric car batteries by complementing the supply of cobalt, nickel, and other critical metals from primary sources. Through our previous acquisition of a Finnish growth company Crisolteq, an expert in low CO2 hydrometallurgical processing, we are very proud that Fortum is now able to increase the recovery rate of valuable materials in lithium-ion batteries from 50% to over 80%," head of business development at Fortum Recycling and Waste Tero Hollander was quoted in the statement as saying.

BASF plans to use the recycled materials in its planned battery materials precursor plant in Harjavalta. "The combination of battery materials production and recycling enables the circular economy by closing the loop," BASF Vice President for Precious Metals Refining, Chemicals, and Battery Recycling Tim Ingle said. "To drive electrification, we are focused on bringing solutions for high energy density cathode active materials and high efficiency lithium extraction for battery recycling," Ingle said.

The companies aim to encourage responsible use of recycled materials for producing batteries. "A modern recycling unit next to Nornickel Harjavalta would further strengthen its position as one of the most sustainable nickel refineries in the world. This setup is ideal for sustainable processing of two of the main metals used in Li-ion batteries. Development of recycling solutions will not only support Nornickel's strategy of further lowering its CO2 footprint and improving sustainability, but it is also essential to enable the industry to meet the growing demand of critical metals in the electric vehicle sector," Managing Director of Nornickel Harjavalta Joni Hautojarvi said.