Li-Cycle to upsize Rochester Hub facility in face of growing demand

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Li-Cycle, currently the largest capacity lithium-ion battery recycling company in North America, announced that the company will be expanding the input processing capacity of its Rochester, New York Hub facility due to rapidly-growing demand.

According to the company, the input processing capacity of the facility will be increased by about 40%, from 25,000 tons to 35,000 tons of “black mass” annually. The upgraded facility will have the capacity to process the equivalent to approximately 90,000 tons of lithium-ion battery feed annually, enough material for 225,000 electric vehicles.

Located in Eastman Business Park, the hub facility will refine battery-grade materials from a ‘black mass,’ using a wet chemistry/hydrometallurgical process. The mass in question will be sent to the facility from one of the company’s numerous Spoke facilities, and is composed of materials taken from spent lithium-ion batteries. The terms ‘Hub’ and ‘Spoke’ are used to differentiate the types of plants the company operates, with the commercial goal being that a handful of regional Spoke plants will produce ‘black mass’ for a regional Hub plant to then refine.

The Company estimates that the Hub will require a total capital investment of approximately $485 million, and has not yet clarified how far the expansion will push back the facility’s targeted completion date. The facility was initially pegged for completion in 2022.

“We believe the upsizing of our commercial Hub facility is timely, to capture growth from heightened demand with the mainstreaming of electrification in North America driving significant new battery megafactory deployments,” said Li-Cycle’s President, CEO, and co-founder, Ajay Kochhar.

Alongside the Hub, the Rochester location also houses a “spoke” facility, which was completed in December 2020. The Rochester spoke has the capacity to process up to 5,000 tons of spent lithium-ion batteries per year, which brings Li-Cycle’s total recycling capacity to 10,000 tons/year through its two North American Spokes. The company also has a Spoke facility in Kingston, Ontario, and has recently announced plans to build its third North American ‘Spoke’ plant in the Phoenix area, becoming the first such plant located West of the Mississippi.

Alongside the hub expansion, Li-Cycle also announced that the company has entered into a manufacturing scrap supply and nickel sulfate off-take agreement non-binding letter of intent with LG Chem (LGC) and LG Energy Solution (LGS).

Under the terms of the agreement, Li-Cycle will sell 20,000 tons of nickel contained in nickel sulfate and produced by Li-Cycle to LGC and LGES over 10 years, beginning in 2023. Additionally, LGES and Li-Cycle intend to cooperate on recycling nickel-bearing lithium-ion battery scrap and certain other lithium-ion battery materials to create a closed loop ecosystem. Nickel is essential for producing many types of EV batteries. Li-Cycle estimates that the amount of nickel that LGC and LGES plan to procure from Li-Cycle will be enough to produce lithium-ion batteries to power approximately 300,000 EVs.

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