March 24, 2022: Clarios has acquired Spanish battery recycler Metalúrgica de Medina, the international automotive battery company told BESB on March 23.
Metalúrgica, which recycles car batteries and other compounds to obtain pure ingots and other alloys, has an annual capacity of around 59,000 tonnes of recycled lead.
Clarios’ vice president of operations for Europe, Middle East and Africa, Jose Domingo, said the acquisition gave the company “access to high-quality input materials and tolling in key regions where we operate.
“The acquisition further centralizes and vertically integrates our business to reduce supplier risks and lower costs. It also strengthens our circular economy approach to ensure materials are responsibly recovered, recycled and reused to make new batteries.”
Financial details of the deal were not disclosed, but Clarios said the acquisition was “a natural extension” of its existing partnership with Metalúrgica. More than 90% of Metalúrgica’s offtake goes to Clarios.
Metalúrgica is Clarios’ largest tolling partner in the EMEA region and provides tolling — the financial arrangement whereby scrap metal collected by the battery manufacturer is returned and a fee paid for the lead to be recycled, ready to be reused in batteries — for all production scrap and customer cores collected from Clarios’ Spanish plants.
In the EMEA region, Clarios already has nine production sites, five logistics centers, 12 sales offices and one recycling center.
Neil Hawkes, base metals principal analyst at CRU in the UK told BESB that companies such as Clarios have been have been pushing for a long time to secure more lead supplies via tolling agreements for their battery manufacturing plants.
Hawkes said: “Now that they have acquired the smelter, is this a tacit admission that it is easier to buy a smelter rather than toll with it on a third-party basis?
“The hugely fragmented nature of scrap collection across Europe, with lots of small-to-mid-sized players along the chain, makes it difficult for big battery makers like Clarios to make inroads in lifting lead volumes through tolling arrangements.
“Far easier in the US by contrast, due to the consolidated nature of scrap collection where battery makers led by Clarios and East Penn control vast majority of scrap collection through reverse distribution networks/channels whereby the scrap flows one way (to smelters) and finished batteries flow the other way (to battery customers).”