US Plans Boost For Electric Vehicle Battery Recycling

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US administration reportedly planning to invest in more recycling to recover minerals and reduce demand for new copper, lithium, cobalt and nickel mines

US president Joe Biden is reportedly planning to boost domestic recycling of batteries as part of a broader plan to expand the country’s electric vehicle industry.

The recycling drive is in part intended to reduce the demand for new mines for metals such as lithium, Reuters reported, citing unnamed administration officials.

The administration concluded a 100-day review of supply chain issues on Friday, including the minerals used in electric vehicle batteries and consumer electronics.

Jaguar batteries
Jaguar’s I-PACE electric vehicle

Mining opposition

Excerpts from government agency reports as part of the review may be made public as early as this week.

Biden’s Democratic party is pushing for aggressive electric vehicle targets as part of its climate-change policies.

But this is expected to lead to heavier demand for cobalt, lithium and other raw materials for batteries.

Recovering such metals from older vehicles is complex, but could reduce the demand for newly mined raw materials, as well as reducing the amount of batteries sent to landfill.

The administration is reportedly planning to rely on mines in ally countries for minerals, in part due to environmental opposition to domestic mines.

Lithium demand

“A big part of the lithium opportunity is really recycling, and being a global leader in recycling the lithium from existing batteries and driving that into these new batteries,” an official said.

The White House may invest directly in recycling projects or spend funds approved by Congress.

The administration is looking to create more recycling plants in the US, with one official noting that China’s Ganfeng Lithium said last autumn it would build a battery recycling plant in Mexico to address the US electric vehicle market.

Research focus

Biden’s projects also include furthering research at the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory and elsewhere aimed at expanding the use of already-mined metals.

The US estimates that 8 million tonnes of battery scrap would be dumped in US landfills alone by 2040 without recycling.

An April report found that recycling used-up batteries could cut the expected need for new sources of copper via mining by 55 percent by 2040, 25 percent for lithium and 35 percent for cobalt and nickel.

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