December 2, 2016: Mark Stevenson, one of Asia’s best known figures in the lead industry, is to join Aqua Metals, a US recycling start-up with a unique process of recovering lead from discarded batteries without the use of smelting.
Stevenson joins as an independent non-executive director. His appointment will be formally ratified at the annual shareholders’ meeting of Aqua Metals on December 21.
Stevenson has spent nearly 38 years working on mostly the technical side of the lead industry.
His appointment is a coup for Aqua Metals given his technical background — he is widely regarded as having an encyclopaedic knowledge of all aspects of secondary lead production — and his extensive contacts built from a lifetime in the industry.
“Mark has a wealth of experience in the lead business. Also his knowledge of the Asian and Australasian markets is second to none,” Stephen Clarke, chairman and CEO of Aqua Metals, told Batteries International.
“He will be a key figure in developing our product strategy for the region.”
Aqua Metals’ business plan is based on two strategies — building and running its own AquaRefineries (where scrap lead batteries are turned into virtually pure lead ingots without smelting) and a licensing and franchise model.
The first AquaRefinery at the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center, Nevada formally opened for business at the end of October. Clarke says a second site has been visited with a view to another facility being built shortly. Additional sites have also been identified as potential AquaRefinery locations.
“Our immediate goal is to be able to produce 800 tonnes a day of pure lead in North America,” says Clarke.
Stevenson said he was excited by his new responsibilities.
“This firm is going to revolutionize the secondary lead business and fundamentally change the world of recycling too. I’m pleased to be part of something that is going to change the planet for the better,” he said.
Joining Simsmetal in 1980, working at the lead smelting unit and studying Material Sciences part-time, Stevenson transferred across to Pasminco, which operated zinc and lead mines, refineries and the world’s biggest lead smelter. In 1995 he moved to the head office in Melbourne, where his technical skills were focused on the marketing and technical support of lead products.
Stevenson stayed with the Pasminco/Zinifex/Nyrstar mergers until 2010, when he joined Eco-Bat Technologies as technical manager for the Asia region. Eco-Bat is the largest producer of lead in the world.
He left Eco-Bat in April to fulfil a long-held ambition of providing a speciality secondary lead consultancy — he named it Global Lead Technologies — that could provide independent expert advice to the Asian region.
Stevenson is particularly well known as the key figure — he is both chairman and prime organizer — of the Asia Battery Conference, which is held every other year across Asia. The meetings are widely regarded as the most important for the lead acid battery industry for the region.
Eleven years ago he set up the International Secondary Lead Conference, which has become a key meeting place for the lead recycling industry.
Stevenson replaces Stan Kimmel, Aqua Metal’s founding independent board director, who died earlier this year.