March 8, 2017: Chinese lead recycling company Tianjin Toho on March 3 announced plans to begin building a $52 million battery recycling plant in Tianjin, a port city of 15.5 million people on China’s northeastern coast. The plant will dispose of 160,000 tonnes a year of lead battery scrap, the Shanghai Metals Market reported.
The plant, construction of which will begin this June, is slated to be completed by 2019 and is predicted to be able to produce 108,000 tonnes of secondary lead and lead alloy a year, — 42,000 tonnes of lead-antimony alloy, 29,000 tonnes of lead-calcium alloy and 37,000 tonnes of refined lead.
Once complete, the Tianjin smelter will have the capacity to produce 5% of China’s recycled lead output, forecast by metals and mining analysts Wood Mackenzie to reach 1.9 million tonnes in 2017.
The plant will also produce 30,200 tonnes of anhydrous sodium sulphate and 10,900 tonnes of plastic scrap, according to the SMM.
“As a rough rule of thumb for North America and Europe, to build a new lead recycling smelter you’d expect to pay around $1 million per 1,000 tonnes of output capacity,” says Farid Ahmed, lead analyst at Wood Mackenzie. “Despite costs being lower in China, this price of construction and equipment for a recycling plant does seem very much at the lower end of the price spectrum.”
The SMM said Tianjin Toho would import fully enclosed, oxygen-enriched shaft furnaces from Italy and Japan, which comply with the Secondary Lead Industry Standards that were released in December 2016.
“With stricter environmental requirements, the approval of the project shows an advanced and environmental technology at Tianjin Toho Lead Recycling,” said the SMM.
In December 2016, the Chinese ministry of industry and information technology published new regulations for the secondary lead industry in China, which included forbidding the construction of new plants inside a “1km red line” away from residential areas and the removal of existing plants to industrial parks.
Smelters had to comply with new national standards, which included only allowing recyclers to operate if they treated more than 100,000 tonnes a year, therefore eliminating the smaller, less regulated plants.
Complete management systems for product quality had to be implemented and only intact lead batteries could be bought for processing in smelters that complied with the Pollution Control Standard for Hazardous Waste Storage.
Other regulations governing emissions and the disposal of hazardous waste were also included.