Along with Christmas parties, the most oft discussed topic in 2021 was almost certainly the COP26 conference, net zero carbon neutrality, sustainability, climate change and other aspirational matters pointing to an internal combustion engine free world. There’s plenty of awareness of the issues surrounding climate change and the environment, but the simple facts are that the leading economies around the world (never mind the developing nations) are woefully underprepared to tackle these issues and create the circular economy required to support sustainability.
“the boom in demand for battery metals such as lithium, nickel, copper and cobalt have seen prices per tonne rocket, but regardless a much bigger problem awaits EV manufacturers”
The Circular Economy Challenge
The circular economy is a model of production and consumption, which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products for as long as possible. In this way, the life cycle of products is extended (European Parliament, 2021) and the carbon footprint dramatically reduced, if not eliminated altogether.
“the simple facts are that the leading economies around the world (never mind the developing nations) are woefully underprepared to tackle these issues and create the circular economy required to support sustainability”
With major vehicle manufacturers around the globe switching from the internal combustion engine to EVs, until now little thought has been given to create a circular economy for recycling battery components. Added to this, the boom in demand for battery metals such as lithium, nickel, copper and cobalt have seen prices per tonne rocket, but regardless a much bigger problem awaits EV manufacturers.
In 2020, Elon Musk and Tesla published forecasts that took the group from manufacturing 500,000 units a year to 20 million units a year. The website Mining.com used data from Adamas Intelligence, which tracks demand for EV batteries by chemistry, cell supplier and capacity in over 90 countries, to calculate the deployment of raw materials in Tesla cars on a sales weighted basis in 2020.
By extrapolating those numbers, if Tesla were producing 20 million cars a year instead of the 500,000 vehicles it made in 2020, it will need more than 30% of global mined nickel production for its batteries. Or in acquisition terms, Tesla will have to buy the entire output of the top 6 producers – Norilsk, Vale, Jinchuan, Sumitomo, Glencore, BHP, and more besides. (*Source Mining.com)
These factors more than ever highlight firstly how critical it is that mining exploration companies continue to deliver new battery metal discoveries at pace, but secondly they highlight the importance of establishing networks and logistics to cope with the energy transition, and the inevitable burgeoning demand for recycled and repurposed batteries.
First to Market Circular Economy Solution
The first company with a circular economy solution designed to meet the challenges outlined above listed on the London stock market in November 2021. Headed by automotive and motorsport expert Robin Brundle (Chairman) and corporate finance and mining specialist Alex Stanbury (CEO), Technology Minerals (TM1) is a company focussed on the security of the supply chain from metal discovery through to end-of-life use.
The group are working towards extracting the raw materials required for Li-ion battery cathodes through mineral resource projects in Ireland (Lithium), Spain (Copper, Cobalt & Nickel), Cameroon (Nickel & Cobalt), and three projects in the USA (Copper, Cobalt and Nickel). At the same time, through its 49% owned company Recyclus Group, the group are solving the ecological issue of spent Li-ion and Lead Acid batteries, by recycling them for reuse by battery manufacturers. The battery metals recycled include cobalt, lithium, nickel and manganese.
Blueprint for Li-ion and Lead Acid Battery Recycling
Recognising the dearth of facilities currently in place, Recyclus Group are looking to establish a battery producer compliance scheme for Q2 2022, which will enable:
- Future proofing for legal and environmental obligations
- A solution for manufacturers to meet recycling demands from Producer Responsibility, thereby supporting their ESG commitments
- Cost minimising through aggregated pricing models
- The ability to meet Individual Producer Financial Responsibilities, coupled with proof against future Extended Producer Market Share Financing Responsibilities for the recycling of batteries at their end-of-life.
Recyclus R&D work, influenced by the Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) at Warwick University on a number of key programmes has resulted in a methodology that safely recycles Li-ion batteries to black mass, with a unique differentiator to replace the current high-risk method.
Shortly after Technology Minerals listed, Recyclus generated considerable interest and interaction from the automotive industry by showcasing its proposed industry blueprint at the London EV Show as well as signing a partnership agreement with Slicker Recycling, one of the UK’s leading hazardous waste management and service delivery providers. The partnership aims to improve UK battery recycling capabilities from dangerous, small-scale manual operations to safe and sustainable recycling on an industrial scale. Technology Minerals believes that this partnership alone could deliver up to 40% of the lead-acid battery capacity, and up to 90% of its Li-ion capacity once the two plants are commissioned in February this year.
“Headed by automotive and motorsport expert Robin Brundle (Chairman) and corporate finance and mining specialist Alex Stanbury (CEO), Technology Minerals (TM1) is a company focussed on the security of the supply chain from metal discovery through to end-of-life use.”
A busy year is in prospect, as Recyclus aims to increase its recycling capacity in 2022 for lead-acid batteries to 16,000 tonnes per annum and 8,300 tonnes per annum for Li-ion batteries. The company has also opened its first laboratory and testing suite at its new battery processing facility in Wolverhampton, UK, and uses specialised equipment including an X-ray fluorescence machine used for measuring the elemental composition of the various battery products. and a Gas Chromatograph with an auto sampler which is used to establish lithium levels and monitor the in-process products to avoid any potential contamination.
In summary, Recyclus is wholly focused on continuous innovation to improve and optimise recycling solutions for existing and future battery technologies and has created a showcase recycling solution that is already being taken out and presented to Governments and battery related industries around the globe.
Sustainable Investment already at the races
Launching a public company with five battery metals mining projects wedded to industrial scale battery recycling facilities in the middle of the COP26 conference shows remarkable organisational skills on the part of Robin Brundle and Alex Stanbury. That Technology Minerals has already delivered a wholly comprehensive and far-reaching circular economy blueprint for the battery and auto industry to recycle and repurpose is nothing short of a masterstoke, a factor made all the more significant given that Brundle, Stanbury and their team have already held government level talks in regard to using and engaging with the blueprint in line with COP26 sustainability objectives.
Technology Minerals raised approximately £5 million in a pre-IPO fundraise before raising approximately £1.5 million through a placing of 66,666,667 New Ordinary Shares at a price of 2.25p at admission to the London Standard Market. Just over one month in and Brundle and his team are already setting an impressive pace, with both retail and institutional investors enthusing over the group’s strong and unique fundamental proposition and the alignment with short and long-term economic and environmental government objectives.
“Just over one month in and Brundle, Stanbury and their team are already setting an impressive pace, with both retail and institutional investors enthusing over the group’s strong and unique fundamental proposition”
One thing is for sure. Technology Minerals shares are already at the races and trading well above the IPO price. Should the group deliver further progress as outlined in the next few months, this could indeed mark the group out as a racing certainty for investors.
*Source Mining.com article: https://www.mining.com/all-the-mines-tesla-needs-to-build-20-million-cars-a-year/