Plans in the works for UK’s first lithium refinery and largest battery recycling facility

Image: green Lithium. An artist's impression of the proposed refinery

Business Secretary Grant Shapps has been in the North East today (7 November) for both of the announcements, made by Green Lithium and Altiluim respectively.

Green Lithium has announced that Teesport, Middlesborough, will be the location for its refinery. The facility will provide materials to industries such as automotive, energy storage and consumer technology. It will employ around 1,000 people during the construction phase and 250 in its operations.

The UK Government has provided Green Lithium with more than £600,000 of grant funding for its work, in a bid to ensure that the UK remains competitive as the net-zero transition continues, and to help make supply chains more resilient. 89% of the world’s lithium processing currently takes place in East Asia.

Shapps said: “We know that geopolitical threats and global events beyond our control can severely impact the supply of key components that could delay the rollout of electric vehicles in the UK.”

Green Lithium has stated that the proposed facility will produce 50,000 tonnes of battery-grade lithium each year once it enters full operations. It wants to begin production in 2025. The firm takes its name from the fact that its refining process claims to produce 80% less greenhouse gas emissions.

Battery recycling

Green Lithium’s plan, in the long-term, is to co-locate the refinery with battery recycling capacity.

In related news, cleantech start-up Altilium has announced plans to build the UK’s “largest planned recycling facility”  for electric vehicle batteries after the Government confirmed a total of £3m of grant funding.

A decision for the final location of the plant will be made in 2023, the company has stated, and an 18-month construction period is envisioned. As such, it is aiming for a 2025 start-date for production.

Altilium has stated that Teesside’s status as a freeport, the support of local authorities and the fact that there are skilled workers in chemical processing in the region were all key factors in its decision on location.

Just last week, Britishvolt, which is currently constructing a gigafactory for car batteries near Blyth, avoided collapse by securing £1.7bn of additional funding.  The gigafactory is now set to open in the last half of 2025. The firm blamed “difficult external economic headwinds including rampant inflation and rising interest rates,” for its challenges.

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