Electric car batteries could boost Glencore’s recycling operations IG News

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The growing market for electric vehicle batteries is expected to fuel Glencore’s recycling operations in Sudbury, Ont.

The mining giant has been recycling metals at its Sudbury smelter for 32 years.

Sari Muinnonen, Glencore’s custom feed manager in Sudbury, says the company has had spare capacity in its smelter for decades, which it uses to smelt “super alloys.”

Those alloys, which come from things like aircraft engine turbines or parts from machine shops, are melted, granulated and shipped to a facility in Norway, where they are treated with their basic elements such as nickel and cobalt. is separated in.

Muinonen said about 25 percent of its smelter capacity is used to process nickel from its Sudbury mines. The other 50 percent is devoted to nickel from a company-owned mine in Quebec. The rest of the metals are available for recycling.

She said the recycling piece is already a significant part of the business at Sudbury.

“Some of these elements have very high concentrations of nickel and cobalt, which are much higher than concentrations,” Muinon said.

“So the implied metal price is very interesting for us to look at. It’s low volume, but they are very rich because of the per tonne or per kg of feedstock.”

A woman in an orange cover stands in front of a smelter with molten metal.
Glencore’s smelter in Sudbury has been using its surplus capacity to recycle metals for 32 years. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

But as electric vehicles become more common, the batteries used to power them, which contain elements such as nickel, cobalt and lithium, must increase the amount of material available to recycle.

“Right now we wouldn’t imagine, you know, a Tesla battery being removed from a vehicle and landing at our door. But through some pretreatment processes, of course we have those materials,” Muinone said. opportunity to bring.”

Peter Xavier, Glencore’s vice president of Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations, told CBC News in March that the company is in regular contact with automakers to supply them with the materials they’ll need to build more electric vehicles.

“For us in the industry, you know, we always knew we were critically important,” he said.

“And we produce the things we produce for a reason, because the world needs it and there is a certain purpose behind it.”

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