Investment to create circular economy in lithium battery manufacturing

The potential to extract lithium, manufacture products such as batteries, and recycle them at the end of their life, all in Australia, has taken a step forward with Lithium Australia announcing a 73.7 per cent interest in Envirostream, an almost 50 point increase.

Lithium Australia invests in extraction processes for lithium, supplying the battery industry. These can be both for consumer batteries and larger battery storage operations. The investment in Envirostream expands Lithium Australia’s capacity to use recycled lithium in the manufacture of batteries.

Currently, Envirostream is the only business in Australia that, at its Melbourne facility, can collect, sort, shred, and separate all components of lithium ion batteries.

The facility has the capacity to recycle up to 3,000tpa of batteries, and in FY19 Envirostream recycled 149t of spent batteries.

According to managing director of Lithium Australia, Adrian Griffin, the acquisition expands what’s possible in lithium battery manufacturing in Australia.

“Lithium Australia views the acquisition of a controlling interest in Envirostream as not only taking a key position in the recycling of battery metals, but also providing an environmental solution for all Australians that use batteries.

Following the successful construction and commissioning of Australia’s biggest lithium ion battery recycling plant, Envirostream can now focus on the roll out of its Australia-wide collection network,” said Griffin.

In December 2018, Austrade released a report The Lithium-Ion Battery Value Chain, which noted that nine of the ten minerals required for lithium batteries are found in Australia. Due to this, there is great potential for Australia to have greater involvement in the manufacturing of lithium batteries, which are increasingly being used for utility energy storage as well as electric vehicles.