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Glencore and Li-Cycle Holdings group, two of the world’s leading recyclers, have partnered up to deliver a landmark European project.

The joint venture will see a hub facility constructed in Italy’s Portovesme which will produce battery materials – including nickel, cobalt and lithium – from recycled battery materials.

The hub will feature Li-Cycle’s state-of-the-art hydrometallurgical technology with the aim of becoming Europe’s biggest supplier of sustainable battery grade products and its first fully closed-loop solution.

“We are excited to expand our global strategic partnership with Glencore and build on our learnings from the Rochester Hub in support of the rapid growth of the lithium-ion battery ecosystem,” Li-Cycle co-founder and executive chairman Tim Johnston said.

The hub – which will be in Sardinia, Italy – is expected to process up to 50,000 to 70,000 tonnes of black mass annually or the equivalent of up to 36 gigawatt hours (GWh) of lithium-ion batteries.

The venture is the first of its type in Europe and could see part of the existing Glencore metallurgical complex – which began operating in 1929 – repurposed in the development.

“(It) underpins our ambition to become the circularity partner of choice for the European battery and EV industry,” Glencore global head of recycling Kunal Sinha said. “This also marks a significant step in our collaboration with Li-Cycle, a preferred partner in the lithium-ion battery recycling space.

“It will shorten delivery times, reduce emissions by minimising the distance of the freight routes and support Italy and Europe’s ambitions to be a global leader in the circular economy.”

The companies have announced they will commence a definitive feasibility study within 60 days which is expected to be completed by mid-2024.

The construction phase is expected to last from late 2026 to early 2027 subject to a final investment decision.