March 14, 2019: Veolia, the France-based waste, water and energy giant, will partner lead battery recycling firm Aqua Metals at its facility in Nevada, US, the firms jointly announced on February 28.
Staff from Veolia’s North America Regeneration Services arm, based in Boston, began working at the McCarran plant on March 4, with a goal of bringing plant operations to 16 modules of AquaRefining capacity by the end of 2019 with future rate increases in 2020, Aqua Metals said.
The partnership will “drive scaling of the AquaRefinery and expand AquaRefining technology into battery recycling centers across the globe”, said Aqua Metals. “While Veolia will contribute operational and technological expertise and organizational capabilities in aqueous based process chemistries and electrolysis along with taking on responsibility for operations, supply chain, off-take and management of the plant.”
“Veolia’s size and technical regeneration capabilities will provide valuable and additive expertise as we execute our business plan,” said Steve Cotton, who was officially made CEO in January after months as de facto president and CEO.
On the same day as the Veolia announcement, Aqua Metals announced its financial and operational results for the year ended December 31, 2018, claiming it was on track to achieve a target contribution margin by the end of the first quarter of 2019 that would allow it to ‘ramp production of ultra-pure AquaRefined lead and other products in a way that is fiscally responsible’.
Cotton said the company had recorded revenue of $4.4 million in 2018, more than twice as much as in 2017, when $2.1 million was recorded.
“Contributing to the more than doubling of revenue in 2018 was increased sales of AquaRefined lead in our product mix as well as having a full year of operations in 2018 versus approximately eight months during 2017,” he said.
Some 19% of total revenue came from AquaRefined lead, with the rest coming from the sale of metallics, lead compounds and plastics from lead batteries, the report said.
Despite the increasing revenue, the company reported an operating loss of $37 million for the same year, with $12.4 million of that coming in the last quarter. The overall loss for 2017 was $24.9 million.
In its outlook for 2019, Aqua Metals warned that first quarter revenue was likely to be well below the $1.1 million achieved in the last quarter of 2018.
However Cotton said it was an exciting time for the company.
“The world’s first AquaRefinery is set to begin producing ultra-pure lead in growing quantities and directly supplying battery manufacturing facilities,” he said.
“As part of our commercialization efforts and our capital-light strategy, we have been in pursuit of strategic relationships including licensing or co-processing relationships with existing partners and the licensing of our technology and our capability to provision our equipment and services on a global stage.
“Today’s partnership announcement with Veolia facilitates our transition to the next phase of our business strategy, which is to become a capital-light technology licensing organization.
“2019 is shaping up to be a very eventful year.”