Glencore to build pilot EV battery recycling plant outside Italy

By Francesca Landini and Alvise Armellini

ROME (Reuters) – Glencore has decided to build a pilot project for an electric vehicle (EV) battery recycling plant outside of Italy, but still has its eye on the island of Sardinia for a larger facility, the Swiss mining group said on Thursday.

Responding to a Reuters request for comment on a newspaper report, Glencore said that the decision to relocate the testing and demonstration plant away from Portovesme in Sardinia would allow for faster commissioning of the project.

Glencore said in May it was going to develop a recycling hub with Canada’s Li-Cycle in Portovesme, where Glencore has other industrial sites, to produce lithium and other materials from the shredded material extracted from used car batteries, known as “black mass”.

But the two companies decided that the testing and demonstration phase of this project would no longer be done in Sardinia after the island’s regional government refused to fast-track an environmental impact assessment for it.

“This development does not immediately impact the feasibility assessment of the larger hub project,” Glencore said in an emailed statement.

“The definite feasibility study is ongoing and remains focused on Portovesme. This initiative is important for our recycling strategy and aligns with Italy’s objectives for sustainable industry development,” the group added.

The Swiss group did not specify where it would build the pilot plant.

Italian business newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore said on Thursday that several countries were being considered as alternative locations, both in Europe and North America.

The CGIL, CISL and UIL labour unions criticised the lack of firm deadlines for the ongoing environmental assessment procedure, and accused the Sardinian region and the Italian government of having an “attitude of distrust” towards the project.

“We are facing an unacceptable situation: on the one hand (Italian authorities are) pushing and working to start the decarbonisation process and on the other hand (they are) slowing down all the plans that are part of the energy transition,” the unions said in a statement.

Last month, Reuters reported that documents filed by Glencore as part of the environmental impact assessment procedure had been judged insufficient by Sardinia’s regional administration.

(Reporting by Francesca Landini and Alvise Armellini; Editing by Jan Harvey and Keith Weir)