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GM invests in Canadian lithium-ion battery recycler

General Motors invests in Canadian lithium-ion battery recyclerGM is launching at least 20 new all-electric vehicles by 2023. (Image courtesy of General Motors.)

General Motors is boosting efforts to secure lithium supplies, a crucial ingredient for electric vehicle (EV) batteries, by investing in Canadian battery recycling company Lithion Recycling Inc.

The move creates a partnership between the world’s second largest automaker and the Quebec-based company to pursue a circular battery ecosystem using Lithion’s technology. Financial details of the investment were not disclosed.

The companies said that third-party lifecycle analysis shows that Lithion’s technology has a recovery rate of over 95%. As it uses green energy, the technology and operations will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 75% and water usage by over 90% compared to mining battery materials, the companies said.

Unfazed by the slowing global economy, buyers of key components in the powering of EVs are stepping up efforts to lock in supplies.

GM is aggressively scaling battery cell and EV production in North America to reach its target of more than one million units of annual capacity by 2025. The automaker also aims to eliminate tailpipe emissions from all of its new light-duty vehicles by 2035.

“We are building a supply chain and recycling strategy that can grow with us,” Jeff Morrison, GM vice president of global purchasing and supply chain said in a statement.

In August, Ultium Cells, GM’s joint venture with LG Energy Solution, opened its first U.S. battery cell plant, with two additional plants under construction.

A fourth planned battery cell plant will bring GM’s projected total U.S. battery capacity to 160 GWh. 

Material needs guaranteed

GM says the binding agreements it has in place guarantee that all of its battery raw material needs will be met, allowing it to reach annual planned production of 2 million battery-powered cars per year by 2025. That is when GM will be ramping up production of about 30 electric models globally.

As the company moves forward, it will work to increasingly localize its battery material supply chain in North America, it said.

Lithion will launch its first commercial recycling operations in 2023. The opening of this facility, with a capacity of 7,500 tonnes per year of lithium-ion batteries, will be followed in 2025 by the launch of Lithion’s first hydrometallurgical plant.

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