Eramet, the European leader in mining and metallurgy, and SUEZ, a global leader in circular solutions for water and waste, have announced they will install their upcoming industrial complex dedicated to recycling lithium-ion batteries from electric vehicles in Dunkirk, North of France. This project aims to create a closed-loop system for recycling the critical metals found in batteries and contribute to the secure supply of metals essential for Europe’s energy transition.
Eramet and SUEZ have chosen the Grand Port Maritime de Dunkerque (Port of Dunkirk) in Northern France as the site for their joint project. This choice marks a significant milestone in the development of their innovative battery recycling process, which was initiated in 2019.
A pilot plant designed for pre-industrial-scale continuous refining process testing and validation is already on the brink of launching in Trappes, France, at Eramet’s research center.
Upstream and Downstream Facilities
The project envisions the construction of two key facilities:
An “upstream” battery dismantling plant capable of processing 50,000 tonnes of battery modules annually, equivalent to approximately 200,000 electric vehicle batteries.
A “downstream” hydrometallurgical facility to extract and refine critical metals from the black mass (nickel, cobalt, lithium), enabling their reuse in the production of new batteries.
Within this collaborative effort, both partners leverage their respective expertise: SUEZ will be in charge of the collection, sorting, preparation, dismantling, and recycling of materials from used batteries. Eramet will use its hydro-metallurgical technology for recycling the critical metals contained in the black mass.
Debut in 2025
The final investment decision for the upstream facility is expected by the end of 2023, with the site set to commence operations in 2025. For the downstream facility, the decision is anticipated by late 2024, with operations scheduled to begin in 2027.
Eramet has secured a total grant of €80 million from the European Union and BPI (Banque Publique d’Investissement), which will fund pre-industrialization studies, construction of the plants, and the operating costs for the first ten years of operation. This financial support underscores the project’s significance in advancing sustainable battery recycling and strengthening Europe’s position in the electric vehicle revolution.
Dunkirk is situated at the heart of the “battery valley”. Several battery-production gigafactories are indeed set to establish themselves in the region in the coming years.