November 15, 2023: Li-Cycle is extending the suspension of construction work at its planned New York lithium battery recycling hub — after revealing the estimated cost of the project could now double to up to $1 billion.
The lithium battery recycling company halted work at the site last month to review the cost of the project (see image), which had initially been estimated to be around $560 million.
In an update on November 13, Li-Cycle president and CEO Ajay Kochhar said the Canada-based company is “taking steps to conserve cash” in the face of escalating costs and is reviewing construction options for Rochester.
Based on the initial analysis and depending on the option selected, Li-Cycle said the revised project costs could be in the range of $850 million to around $1 billion.
The figures include the cost of the process buildings and warehouse of around $140 million.
An industry commentator told Batteries International that with a number of similar recycling projects at various stages of development around the world, the estimated eye-watering costs at Rochester will unnerve investors and give pause for thought about how to proceed with recycling technologies involving lithium.
Meanwhile, the company has still not answered questions from Batteries International about whether it is also reviewing other projects — including plans for a recycling joint venture at Glencore’s existing Portovesme lead and zinc processing plant in Italy.
Li-Cycle is continuing talks with the US Department of Energy on how to meet conditions to secure a planned $375 million loan to help support construction at Rochester.
The facility, which would take materials from the firm’s spoke facilities, had been scheduled for start-up by the end of this year.
Spoke facilities are where all types of lithium ion batteries are transformed from a charged state to what Li-Cycle describes as an inert product. The resulting black mass is then transferred to a hub, where cathode and anode materials are processed into battery grade end-products for reuse in battery production or other applications.
In August, Li-Cycle announced the start-up of its first European lithium ion spoke plant in Germany. The company said that black mass produced at the plant was to be processed at Portovesme.