The Recycling Solution to the EV Lithium Battery Metal Supply Challenge
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American Manganese Inc. (TSXV:AMY; OTC US: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 using its patented RecycLiCo hydrometallurgical process. The company has successfully proven 100 percent recovery of cathode metals and is now replicating real world closed-circuit conditions with a pilot plant project that has a minimum processing capacity of one kilogram per hour of cathode material.
American Manganese holds a patent registered in the US, China, South Africa and Canada for a disruptive metallurgical process to achieve the recovery of very low-grade manganese (two to three percent) and process the manganese into electrolytic manganese metal (EMM) and electrolytic manganese dioxide (EMD) which are utilized in specialty metals and lithium-ion batteries.
The RecycLiCo technology is the cornerstone of American Manganese’s patented technology for recycling 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.
American Manganese contracted Kemetco Research Inc. for bench-scale studies of the conceptual process to show it can successfully treat spent lithium-ion battery cathode materials, producing recycled cathode materials suitable for re-use in new lithium-ion batteries. Kemetco is a privately-owned contract research and development company specializing in extractive metallurgy, chemical processing and specialty chemical analysis. Together, the companies executed a proof-of-concept that demonstrated that American Manganese’s RecycLiCo technology was suited for recycling lithium-ion batteries, with leach extractions of 100 percent for lithium, cobalt, nickel, manganese and aluminum.
“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. Working with the company contractor, Kemetco, American Manganese continues to fund the design and engineering of a pilot plant where the company is testing its RecycLiCo process in closed-circuit conditions. To date, the company has determined that additional wash and screening will be required to maximize the recovery potential of the remaining active material during stages one and two of processing. The final stages of processing are still being tested.
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.
- Member of the US Department of Energy’s Critical Materials Institute (CMI].
- Granted patent 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 testing continuous closed-circuit conditions
- Signed MOU with Battery Safety Solutions, a battery collection and disassembly enterprise
- Global EV market expected to grow from 2.6 million unit sales in 2015 to over 41 million in 2040, according 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
- 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 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 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 have been determined as a key market designed to reducing harmful emissions across the world. EVs are fueled by lithium-ion batteries that 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 as to contribute to the supply of battery metals.
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 across the globe. 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-aluminium (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 a battery production ready form 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 across the globe.
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. The report also included the proposal to design, engineer and build a pilot plant that will be dedicated to obtaining scale-up data and test customer materials in a practical way.
In deploying this project, the company has further engaged Kemetco to assist in the development of three new IP extensions and in the pilot plant process.
“The pro forma commercial plant would have a battery cathode scrap processing capacity of 1,100 tonnes per year,” said American Manganese CEO Larry Reaugh. “Management’s engineering and financial analysis indicates a very economically robust project even at this small scale.”
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.”
American Manganese has developed a chemical method for detaching aluminum foil from cathode compounds; a novel gravity separation method that strips the detached aluminum foil from active cathode compounds into separate streams; and, a novel method to concentrate lithium that will reduce the number of steps and equipment needed.
In January 2019, American Manganese moved the pilot plant to Kemetco’s testing facility in Richmond, British Columbia. The pilot plant will be able to process one metric tonne of pre-production cathode scrap material once operational at a rate of one kilogram per hour.
“As we begin our pilot plant testing, we are thrilled to see that the US Department of Energy recognizes the importance of lithium-ion battery recycling technology”, said Reaugh. “We continue to hold discussions with the US Department of Energy for our recycling technology as well as the US Department of Defense for our initial patented process of low-grade manganese ore recovery – one of the 23 critical minerals listed in the US Executive Order.”
Following the installation of the pilot plant in Richmond, American Manganese commenced testing on select samples of cathode scrap material. Testing of the material will undergo five stages of testing: pre-treatment of cathode material, leaching of active material, purification, recovery of base metals and, finally, lithium recovery and water recycling.
Stages one and two of the processing were able to successfully collect 500 liters of pregnant leach solution containing cathode materials. While the initial extraction results were promising, additional wash and screening will be required to maximize the recovery potential of the remaining active material.
“Although stages 1 and 2 of the pilot plant achieved exceptional recovery results from the first pass of material, an additional wash and screen will increase recovery of additional active material to be processed,” said Reaugh. “From the pilot plant, we have improved the handling of large quantities of commercially available material on a continuous basis, in terms of separation of active material from aluminum foils. The proven effectiveness of extraction is a great demonstration as we plan for commercial production.”
American Manganese will continue its testing through the remaining three stages of the RecycLiCo process. At the end of testing, the company intends to provide the high-purity recycled battery materials to lithium-ion battery manufacturers with the goal of commercializing its RecycLiCo technology with a joint venture partner or through licensing agreements.
Battery Safety Solutions
American Manganese has signed a MOU with Battery Safety Solutions B.V. to create and commercialize a closed-loop circular economy solution for the upcycling of spent and damaged whole lithium-ion batteries. BSS brings their unique industry-leading expertise and capabilities in collection, discharging and dismantling of lithium-ion batteries.
Feedstock from spent or damaged lithium-ion batteries are 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 Larry Reaugh, CEO of American Manganese. “We’re honored to be working with world-renowned national labs and leading U.S. universities on an issue that will dramatically impact our ability to meet rising material demand for lithium, cobalt, manganese and nickel.”
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 – Corporate Secretary
Teresa Piorun has been with the Reaugh Group of Companies for thirty 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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