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Mitsubishi Materials to recycle rare metals from used EVs

Japan company looks to extract cobalt, lithium to cut overseas dependence

Mitsubishi Materials and its partner, Envipro Holdings, plan to have a commercial lithium-ion battery recycling business up and running by fiscal 2025. (Source photo by Shihoko Nakaoka) 

TOKYO -- Mitsubishi Materials will begin commercial recycling of rare metals such as cobalt and lithium from used lithium-ion batteries taken from electric vehicles, starting in fiscal 2025, Nikkei has learned. The Japanese company aims to increase its processing capacity to 6,000 tonnes per year by around fiscal 2030.

It is technically difficult to extract lithium and other materials at low cost, especially from lithium-ion batteries. Used EV batteries are typically melted down and recycled for steel and other metals. Mitsubishi Materials and its partner, Envipro Holdings, will develop a technology to recover rare metals efficiently from batteries by soaking powder from batteries called "black mass" in sulfuric acid and other solutions. Mitsubishi Materials aims to improve the efficiency of the extraction process, drawing on its expertise in copper smelting.

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