The Recycling Solution to the EV Lithium Battery Metal Supply Challenge
This American Manganese Inc. profile is part of a paid investor education campaign.*
American Manganese Inc. (TSXV:AMY,OTC Pink:AMYZF,FSE:2AM) is a critical metal company focused on recycling lithium-ion batteries for cathode metals such as cobalt, lithium, nickel, manganese and aluminum. The company’s RecycLiCoTM patented process is a closed-circuit hydrometallurgical solution for recycling spent lithium-ion batteries. American Manganese has successfully proven the proof-of-concept for the process via a completed Pilot Plant project.
The company also recently completed testing of the process for tier-one lithium-ion battery companies. Results included recoveries of high purity (99.98 percent) nickel-cobalt hydroxide from nickel-cobalt-aluminum (NCA) battery cathode scrap material. American Manganese aims to begin engineering design and economic analysis of a 3 to 5 tonne per day commercial demonstration plant for 2020.
American Manganese holds a patent registered in the US, China, South Africa and Canada for a disruptive metallurgical process that can recover very low-grade manganese (two to three percent) and then process the manganese into electrolytic manganese metal (EMM) and electrolytic manganese dioxide (EMD) which are utilized in specialty metals and lithium-ion batteries.
American Manganese’s leadership team understood that the process used to efficiently extract manganese from low-grade deposits could be applied with even greater efficiency to recovering the full suite of cathode metals from spent lithium-ion batteries.
To test this understanding, American Manganese contracted Kemetco Research Inc.,a privately-owned research and development company specializing in extractive metallurgy, chemical processing and specialty chemical analysis. Together, the companies executed a proof-of-concept Pilot Plant demonstrating that American Manganese’s RecycLiCo technology was suited for recycling lithium-ion batteries. Through this testing process, American Manganese showed that the RecycLiCo process could successfully create a high-purity NMC hydroxide filter cake with a purity of 99.93 percent.
“There is currently no known commercial technology for large scale recycling of cathode materials of multiple chemistries. Spent cathode materials represent an ideal resource material to be processed with American Manganese’s proprietary hydrometallurgical process,” said Kemetco President Norman Chow.
In April 2019, American Manganese was granted a patent from the US Patent and Trademark Office for its lithium-ion battery recycling technology. A second patent was awarded in June 2019. The company also has filed patent applications for its recycling technology in several additional countries. Based on the success of the final testing stage, American Manganese expects to file for its third patent in lithium-ion battery recycling.
“Lithium-ion battery recycling is a certainty, and with the growing demand in electric vehicles and portable electronics, American Manganese plans to be a global leader in lithium-ion battery recycling,” said Larry Reaugh, President and CEO of American Manganese. “Our patented RecycLiCoTM process would eliminate waste by diverting end-of-life lithium-ion batteries from landfills; reduce mined raw materials by providing recycled materials for the lithium-ion battery supply chain; improve manufacturing costs by recycling cathode scrap for use in future lithium-ion cathode manufacturing, and eliminate carbon emissions with our closed-loop hydrometallurgical process.”
American Manganese is a member of the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Critical Materials Institute (CIM). The company will be involved in CMI’s efforts to advance critical material recycling. The company is also participating in the DOE’s “Lithium-Ion Battery Disassembly, Remanufacturing and Lithium and Cobalt Recovery Project”. The project’s goal is to determine an economically sound way to recover used lithium-ion batteries for critical metals in spent lithium-ion batteries.
American Manganese Company Highlights
- Member of the US Department of Energy’s Critical Materials Institute.
- Granted two patents for lithium-ion battery recycling technology from the US Patent and Trademark Office.
- Successful proof-of-concept for 100 percent recovery of cathode metals such as cobalt, lithium, nickel, manganese and aluminum.
- Pilot plant project and testing on third-party material from tier-one lithium-ion battery companies successfully completed.
- Aiming to begin engineering design and economic analysis of a 3 to 5 tonne per day commercial demonstration plant for 2020.
- Signed MOU with Battery Safety Solutions, a battery collection and disassembly enterprise.
- Global electric vehicle (EV) market is expected to grow from 2.6 million unit sales in 2015 to over 41 million in 2040, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
- EV batteries have an average shelf-life of only five to eight years.
- Demand for key materials outpacing supply, especially for lithium and cobalt.
- Recycling technology reduces the demand for new cathode materials.
- Recycling of lithium-ion batteries is a certainty thanks to government legislation.
- Providing a source of lower-cost recycled cathode materials with the potential for higher profit margins for battery manufacturers.
- Hydrometallurgical process is easily scalable.
- Process applicable to multiple lithium-ion battery chemistries.
- The RecycLiCo process is able to produce an NMC hydroxide filter cake with a purity of 99.93 percent.
- Source of cathode scraps from US recycler and active materials from lithium-ion battery recycler in Europe.
- Significant environmental benefits including substantial reduction of landfill waste and reduction of energy consumption and emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants.
- Holds a patent in the US, China, South Africa and Canada for production of electrolytic manganese metal and electrolytic manganese dioxide from low-grade manganese deposits.
- Developing a blockchain solution for transparency, traceability and ethically-sourced EV battery metals.
The RecycLiCo Patented Process: Innovative Lithium-ion Battery Recycling
The problem to solve
EVs are a key market in the global fight to reduce carbon emissions. EVs are fueled by lithium-ion batteries which typically have a five to eight-year life. As the demand for EVs continues to grow, so does the demand for the elements used in the batteries, including lithium, cobalt, nickel, manganese and more. As such, the global supply for each of these has been significantly impacted, and there is an opportunity for renewable energy solutions aimed at recycling spent batteries.
Around the world, governments are starting to develop regulations aimed at spurring the development of recycling solutions from battery and EV manufacturers. China, for instance, has mandated that EV manufacturers need to have a solid reclamation and recycling plan for batteries. Regulations of this type are also being replicated in Europe, and some of Canada’s provincial governments are also making similar changes.
The RecycLiCo technology ensures that consumer battery waste is re-used which will hopefully help reduce the amount of mining, processing and refining that is carried out in remote and politically unstable regions. The technology is also a low-cost option that requires minimal processing and has a known feedstock source when compared to the high cost of developing a mine.
By securing spent batteries, such as nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC), nickel-cobalt-aluminum (NCA) and lithium-cobalt-oxide (LCO), the company can easily secure feedstock for its process from across the globe. Additionally, the cost of the reagents to extract these materials is less than $1 per kilogram of cathode material processed. Another benefit of the technology is that the RecycLiCo technology produces a product that is close to battery-production ready and can be valued at premium prices.
The process takes place in a closed loop hydrometallurgical system which releases no greenhouse gas emissions and landfill waste, has low energy consumption and recycles the water and reagents used during processing. The RecycLiCo technology and similar technologies are also supported by legislative bodies around the world.
Developing a proprietary process
American Manganese has contracted Kemetco for the development of its proprietary RecycLiCo hydrometallurgical lithium-ion battery recycling process. The process was tested and proven to extract 100 percent of the lithium, cobalt, manganese, aluminum and nickel.
“The American Manganese lithium reclamation process that we developed is the same technology used to extract base metals from low-grade ores,” said Kemetco Research President Norman Chow. “Since the cathode material is mainly a base metal with lithium embedded in the skeleton, we use the exact same hydrometallurgical process to recover the cathode material for recycling.”
The extracted base metals or lithium can then be re-dissolved into a solution that is reformed in a usable cathode powder. This then undergoes the same treatment process used by battery manufacturers. It is run through a heat treatment cycle, which helps form a base metal oxide skeleton or crystal structure. The skeleton is then charged, and the lithium moves into place, embedding itself into the skeleton.
In December 2017, American Manganese received a ‘New IP Development and Pilot Plant’ proposal from Kemetco. The proposal included objectives for developing new IP to recover copper and aluminum foils, and to recover graphite from anodes. As part of the company’s IP development program, American Manganese used cathode scraps to develop innovative technology that separates aluminum foils from the cathode material. This process will be incorporated into the company’s growing IP portfolio.
“Currently, there’s no process out there that actually recycles 100 percent of cathode metals,” said Reaugh. “There are other companies out there that are recycling the lithium-ion batteries, but they don’t have the same recovery rates. Most reclamation comes from burning the batteries and getting a percentage of the cobalt back, the rest goes into slag.”
In January 2019, American Manganese moved the pilot plant to Kemetco’s testing facility in Richmond, British Columbia. The pilot plant was designed to process one metric tonne of pre-production cathode scrap material at a rate of one kilogram per hour. Kemetco tested select samples of cathode scrap material in five stages: pre-treatment of cathode material, leaching of active material, purification, recovery of base metals and, finally, lithium recovery and water recycling.
American Manganese first reported high extraction results from stages 1 and 2 of the pilot plant project in its April 11, 2019, news release, followed by the testing of stages 3 and 4, which reported high purity NMC (nickel-manganese-cobalt) and NCA (nickel-cobalt-aluminum) cathode material results as disclosed in the July 24, 2019 news release and the August 27, 2019 news release.
In May 2019, American Manganese initiated the final stages of testing at the RecycLiCo pilot plant, which include the purification and recovery of battery-grade lithium carbonate and metal oxides as well as the recycling of reagents and water. Through testing, the company was able to produce a high-purity NMC hydroxide filter cake at the plant.
Stage 5 testing consisted of a newly developed proprietary process which focuses on the recovery of battery-grade lithium, reduction of reagent usage and processing steps. “We are extremely pleased with the development and testing of our lithium-ion battery recycling pilot plant project,” said Reaugh. “We are in an excellent position to demonstrate our years of experience to potential tier-one partners in the lithium-ion battery industry.”
Battery Safety Solutions
American Manganese has signed an MOU with Battery Safety Solutions B.V. (BSS) to create and commercialize a closed-loop circular economy solution for the upcycling of spent and damaged whole lithium-ion batteries. BSS brings its unique industry-leading expertise and capabilities in the collection, discharging and dismantling of lithium-ion batteries.
Feedstock from spent or damaged lithium-ion batteries is collected, discharged and disassembled. The unique process from BSS completely discharges a lithium-ion battery in a fraction of the time needed by conventional methods and then stores 100 percent of the discharged energy. The battery can then be safely disassembled and the various components can be sorted.
“We received and analyzed several samples of disassembled battery materials from around the globe and believe that the BSS process is the most advanced and unique process available,” said Reaugh. “This strategic partnership will bring together the unique industry-leading expertise and capabilities of each Party to develop, optimize, and commercialize the best complete solution for customers, with our goal to be commercially ready by late 2019.”
US Department of Energy
In March 2019, American Manganese announced its participation in the US DOE’s “Lithium-Ion Battery Disassembly, Remanufacturing and Lithium and Cobalt Recovery Project”. The project is focused on developing an economic recovery strategy for critical metals in end-of-use lithium-ion batteries.
“AMY is very pleased to become the first private-sector company to participate in this project,” said Reaugh. “We’re honored to be working with world-renowned national labs and leading US universities on an issue that will dramatically impact our ability to meet rising material demand for lithium, cobalt, manganese and nickel.”
To date, American Manganese has received cathode and anode materials from disassembled electric vehicle battery packs by the US DOE. The materials are to be treated with the company’s RecycLiCo patented process.
American Manganese Management
Larry W. Reaugh – President, CEO and Director
Larry Reaugh has 53 years’ experience in the mining industry and for the past thirty-seven years he has been the CEO and President of several exploration, development and production companies including 12 years in internet and technology breakthroughs listed on the TSX, TSX Venture and NASDAQ exchanges. Several of his companies have made significant discoveries, three of which (gold/silver) went on to be producing mines. He founded American Manganese Inc. in 1998 and has served as its President and CEO since that time. Through his career, Reaugh has raised in excess of $300 million.
Shaheem Ali, BBA – CFO
Shaheem Ali is a finance and business management professional with 10 years’ experience in operations management, full cycle accounting, systems development and people management. He has a proven record of implementing financial and operational processes, reducing operations costs and improved internal controls with Alderwoods Group Inc. where his experience includes governance and regulatory fund compliance with various states.
Teresa Piorun – Senior Corporate Officer
Teresa Piorun has been with the Reaugh Group of Companies for 30 years. She is a senior corporate officer with wide-ranging responsibilities, serving as a focal point for communication with the board of directors, senior management and the company’s shareholders and occupies a key role in the administration of critical corporate matters. She is the confidant and advisor to the CEO and other members of senior management, particularly on corporate governance affairs.
Zarko Meseldzija – Chief Technical Officer
Zarko Meseldzija brings a range of industry experience, acquired by working with one of Canada’s largest energy companies and an innovation-driven process systems company. He has deep insight into project management of muli-million-dollar projects as well as technical knowledge of hydrometallurgical process development projects, particularly in the field of e-waste and lithium-ion battery recycling. He built his career on emerging technologies and opened an independent consulting firm focused of lithium-ion battery supply chain management and the recycling of battery metals such as cobalt, lithium, nickel and manganese.
He holds a Bachelor’s in Mining Engineering from the University of Alberta and is a registered engineer with the Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia.
Norman L. Tribe, BA.Sc., P.Eng. – Director
Norman Tribe is the president and principal of N. Tribe & Associates Ltd. a geological contractor serving the mining industry for fifty-eight years. He has a total of 58 years’ experience in most phases of mining including underground grade control, mine development, mine evaluation, property evaluation, project management, project consultant, exploration management, plant design, exploration geology, reclamation and reporting to the various government entities and stock exchanges.
Andris Kikauka, P.Geo. – Director
Andris Kikauka is a graduate of Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, with an Honours Bachelor of Science Degree in Geological Sciences, 1980. He is a member of the Geological Association of Canada. He is registered in the Province of British Columbia as a Professional Geoscientist.
Kikauka has practiced his profession for thirty five years in precious and base metal exploration in the Cordilllera of Western Canada working for Anaconda Canada Exploration (1980-1984), Skyline Explorations, Inel Resources, Gulf International Minerals (1985-1989), in South America working for Carson Gold (1990), in Mexico and Guatemala working mineral exploration projects for Francisco Gold and Almaden Minerals (1996-2006) and for three years in uranium exploration in the Canadian Shield working for Rayrock Mines and Uran-Canada (1977-1979).
Jan Eigenhuis, P.Geo. – Director
Jan Eigenhuis is a former senior executive at Manganese Metal Company of South Africa (MMC). He currently acts as a consultant to the electrolytic manganese industry worldwide. It is notable that he counts MMC as well as the Chinese manganese producers as clients. Eigenhuis is a graduate of the University of Pretoria; B.Sc. (Chem. & Math.) and the University of South Africa; MBL (Master Business Leadership). He has 30 years of business experience in mineral beneficiation and in the electrolytic manganese metal industry.
Ed Skoda – Director
Edward Skoda obtained a Diploma in Mining Engineering Technology from the Haileybury School of Mines in Ontario in 1971 and a Diploma in Business Management from the British Columbia Institute of Technology in 1979. Skoda has over 30 years of experience in the mining industry in which time he has worked on many national and international projects. During the past 15 years, Skoda has worked as a consultant and in a supervisory capacity as a shift boss, superintendent, or project manager for various mining and exploration companies. Based out of Guadalajara, Jalisco, Skoda oversees all Mexico operations for SJ Geophysics Ltd.
Kurt Lageschulte – Director
Kurt Lageschulte is a Partner and Senior Analyst at Broadbill Investment Partners, LLC in New York. Broadbill Partners is an investment firm with offices in New York, Florida and California and currently has $130 million of assets under management across four managed funds. Lagescheite is a founding partner at Broadbill, and was previously employed as a Senior Analyst with Aspen Advisors from 2002 to 2010. He has worked as an advisor and active member of a number of committees. Most recently, he has advised the Special Committee of the Penn Treaty American Company board in a complex negotiation with industry regulators. His experience in the energy, renewable and mining industries, coupled with significant expertise in the capital markets will enable Lageschuite and the Broadbill team to help American Manganese in the reaching of its goals in the coming years.
Shailesh Upreti – Advisory Board
Shailesh Upreti is a well-respected lithium-ion technology expert and inventor of multiple breakthrough technologies. An IIT Delhi graduate, Upreti has worked closely with Professor Stan Whittingham in the past and holds multiple US patents and their foreign equivalents in more than 30 countries. In addition to his technical degree, he has a second masters in international business management in combination with extensive experience as an entrepreneur. Upreti has successfully brought more than five different technologies to market including one in the material recycling space.
His 16 years of extensive experience includes bringing new products to market, business development, lithium-ion supply chain and industry networking, downstream processing and investigating organizational performance gaps. He is well integrated into the global battery industry and serves on various advisory boards. Upreti is particularly adept in defining corporate commercial objectives, business support programs and achieving organizational goals while bringing new technology to market.
David Langtry – Technical Advisor
David Langtry has been a businessman since 1964 when he joined Langtry Agencies, a company which expanded nationally to become Langtry Industries and was sold in 2011 to ITOCHU, a Japanese conglomerate specializing in commodities. Langtry currently owns and operates Raider Hansen Inc., an industrial supplies company having 10 locations throughout British Columbia, as well as GRE Manufacturing, a glass recycling company. He also holds 10 worldwide patents. Langtry has a life time of experience in technology and financial markets.
Dan McGroarty – Strategic Advisor
Daniel McGroarty has consulted for nearly two decades to firms in the resource sector, with a focus on strategic and critical metals. He is principal of the non-profit American Resource Policy Network, a resource development think tank. He has served as a critical materials subject-matter expert for the U.S. GAO; testified before the energy and natural resource committees of the U.S. House and Senate; consulted to the Institutes for Defense Analyses, which provides research and analytical work to the U.S. Department of Defense for its National Defense Stockpile reports; and currently serves as Adjunct Professor at The George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management. Prior to establishing his consultancy, McGroarty served as Special Assistant to the President in the White House and as presidential appointee to two Secretaries of Defense.
James J. (Jim) Hahn – Advisory Board
James Hahn has over 40 years’ experience in the specialty tool and fastener industry. He has held management positions in patented product development. He has also worked domestically and internationally in the development of concrete anchoring systems leading to successful market introductions which were attained through independent product testing that met strict industry codes and final evaluation agency approvals.
At Hilti Inc., Hahn had the highest number of sales locally, regionally and nationally and was awarded with a multi-million-dollar sales club recognition for his work in a previously underperforming territory. He was also recognized multiple times as a President Club’s winner at national conventions for setting regional and national sales records annually. Additionally, Hahn received a special award from the ITW Corporation for the development of a national training program for certain industrial metals. He is also a founding member of the Concrete Anchoring Manufacturing Association in 1996.
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