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Korean Tech Giants Ally for Battery Waste Recycling of Nickel, Lithium

Yusuf Balogun
Yusuf Balogun
Yusuf is a law graduate and freelance journalist with a keen interest in tech reporting.

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As the revolution of the electric vehicle (EV) market is changing the world, South Korean corporations, LG, SK, and POSCO, are increasing their battery recycling investments as costs for critical components like nickel and lithium have risen dramatically.

The price of nickel, the primary component of electric vehicle batteries, increased by 60% in a year, while the price of lithium increased by sixfold.

The leading battery manufacturers, such as SK and LG have set up recycling operations to recover valuable metals such as nickel, cobalt, and lithium from old batteries.

LG Energy Solutions (LGES) has agreed to buy a 2.6 percent stake in Recycle Canada, North America’s largest battery recycling firm. It will also get 20,000 tons of nickel every year, enough to make 300,000 electric vehicle batteries.

Ultium Cells, a joint venture between LGES and GM, also announced in 2023 that it will build a battery recycling facility at its Ohio battery plant.

SK Innovation has created and applied for 54 patents for their lithium hydroxide recovery technique. In addition, the mechanical construction of the Daejeon waste battery recycling plant was finished in December, and the facility is already in trial.

By 2025, the company expects to create roughly 300 billion won in earnings before this segment’s interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA).

The global battery recycling market is expected to grow from $5.558 billion in 2030 to $57.395 billion in 2040, according to SNE Research.

In addition, POSCO formed a joint venture with Huayou Cobalt in China to form POSCO HY Clean Metal, with the goal of becoming a leader in environmentally friendly materials.

POSCO HY Clean Metal intends to convert battery wastes from a European battery facility into black powder, which will subsequently be imported to extract nickel, lithium, cobalt, and manganese, which are key components of battery cathodes.

According to an SK Innovation official, who speaks about the future of EV batteries by 2040, said:

“By 2040 more battery materials will come from used batteries than from mines. The supply will not be able to keep up with demand, so demand for recycling battery waste will increase drastically,”.

“Also, it is more eco-friendly, as recycling produces 70 percent less carbon dioxide than mining nickel and 40 percent less carbon dioxide compared to extracting lithium from lithium hydrochloric acid.” He added.




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