Glencore backs EVelution Energy’s cobalt plant plans

Mutanda, the world’s largest cobalt mine, is responsible for a fifth of global output. (Image courtesy of Glencore.)

Mining and commodities trader giant Glencore (LON: GLEN) has agreed to supply up to 7,000 tonnes of contained cobalt per year to US-based EVelution Energy as a way to support the development of what it said will be the first solar-powered commercial-scale battery metals processing plant.

“Cobalt is a critical material for current electric vehicles (EVs) battery technologies [and] we’re proud to support the development of EVelution Energy’s cobalt processing facility in the United States,” Glencore said on social media.

In a letter of intent (LOI) inked by the parties, Glencore committed to provide EVelution with long-term supplies of cobalt hydroxide, essential for the production of cobalt sulphate used in EV batteries.

The Swiss company said the agreement was an important step in the creation of a domestic EV battery material supply chain and helps the US’s transition towards a net-zero economy.

Glencore noted it may expand its supply, contingent on the growth of EVelution’s production capabilities.

The collaboration also includes discussions on the potential offtake of the entire cobalt sulphate output, alongside financial solutions for hedging and working capital.

Glencore backs EVelution Energy’s cobalt plant plans
Digital rendition of the plant to be built in Arizona. (Image courtesy of EVelution Energy.)

Construction of the cobalt refinery is planned to start this year, with the goal of having it operational by the end of 2026. The facility will not only produce its own power, but also provide extra clean electricity to local farmers, EVelution said. Additionally, it will recycle about 70% of the water it utilizes, which will minimize its impact on the surrounding environment.

Battery metals recovery

Glencore’s move is one of the many steps the miner has taken in the past year towards tapping into the refining and recycling sectors.

In early 2023, the firm partnered up with Moroccan mining company Managem to produce cobalt from recycled battery materials at a plant near Marrakech.

A month later, Glencore announced it would expand its Britannia Refined Metals plant in southern England, which has historically been a leading re-user of lead-acid batteries found in combustion-powered cars.

It also became strategic partner of EV battery start-up Britishvolt to build a recycling plant of lithium-ion batteries in the UK.

Glencore later inked an agreement with Spanish and Portuguese companies to offer lithium-ion battery recycling services in both countries.

It later joined Canada’s Li-Cycle Holdings (NYSE: LICY) in a plan to build a battery recycling plant in Europe, set to become EU’s largest facility of this kind.