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Teck Trail looks at potential EV battery recycling plant

Demand for recycled materials expected to grow rapidly
Photo: Trail Times

Following the start up of Teck Trail’s carbon capture plant, the mining company reported that it was also advancing the possible development of a “large-scale electric vehicle battery recycling facility.”

With the first iteration of electric vehicle (EV) batteries expected to expire or at least near the end of their potential life cycle, approximately 10 years, the need for recycling and disposal facilities for lithium-ion batteries will be in high demand.

The Times contacted Teck’s public relations manager and asked about the mining and smelting company’s timeline for construction on its recycling facility.

While the matter remains in the study phase, spokesperson Chris Stannell did offer further insight.

“Teck Trail Operations is currently evaluating the potential development of an electric vehicle battery recycling facility, which could create local benefits for the Trail community while supporting Teck’s climate action efforts and the Canadian Critical Minerals Strategy,” reads a Teck statement from Stannell.

The critical minerals strategy identifies several natural resources that are crucial for economic and security reasons, including minerals such as lithium, cobalt, graphite, and rare earth elements.

Many are used to make EV batteries.

“EV battery recycling at Trail would involve construction of a new dedicated facility, which would process dismantled EV batteries to recover valuable critical minerals such as nickel, cobalt, and lithium.”

Funds like the $10M grant from the CleanBC Industry Fund for its carbon capture plant may be available to kick-start new projects as the federal government is encouraging investment in critical mineral projects and promoting innovation in extraction, processing, and recycling technologies.

Teck Trail recycles lead batteries, zinc alkaline batteries, and cathode ray tube glass, and with Lower Columbia partners like B.C. Hydro, Metal Tech Alley, KC Recycling, and Cirba Solutions (formerly Retriev Technologies), Trail is considered a hub for recycling operations.

“There are significant synergies possible for an electric vehicle battery recycling facility integrated into Trail’s existing operations, including access to clean electrical power and leveraging our considerable infrastructure, logistics network, technical know-how and expertise,” the Teck statement notes.

As part of its critical minerals strategy, the government acknowledges the strategic importance of these minerals for various industries, including clean technology, electric vehicles, and defence.

These materials are expensive and often mined in developing countries under difficult conditions.

With the push for the world to move from gas powered to electric vehicles, the demand for these recycled materials is expected to grow rapidly, likely more than recycled materials can provide.

However, recycled and reused minerals from EV batteries may reduce the amount that needs to be newly extracted from the earth, and enhance the industrial circular economy.

Teck says that more details will become available as studies for this potential facility advance.

Read more: Teck Trail starts up carbon capture plant

Read more: Province directs $10 million into Teck Trail carbon capture pilot

Jim Bailey

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