French miner Eramet and its partner Suez will build their lithium-ion battery recycling plant in the Grand Port Maritime of Dunkirk, France, Kallanish learns.

The so-called ReLieVe project will recover lithium, nickel, manganese, and cobalt together with other elements like plastics and casing to reuse them in new batteries. It involves the construction of two facilities – an upstream and a downstream plant.

Used for dismantling and production, the upstream blackmass plant will have a processing capacity of 50,000 tonnes of battery modules per year, the equivalent of 200,000 EV batteries. The downstream hydrometallurgy plant will extract and refine nickel, cobalt, and lithium contained in blackmass. The final investment decision for the project is expected by year-end. The target start-up for the finished facility in Dunkirk has been set for 2027.

“The Dunkirk site is ideally positioned at the heart of the ‘battery valley’ that is emerging in the Hauts-de-France region. Several battery production plants are due to open in the region over the next few years,” the partners said in a note on Friday.

ReLieVe has been awarded a grant of €70 million ($74m) by the European Commission. At its research centre Eramet Ideas in Trappes, France, the miner has been developing a closed-loop optimised process to recycle batteries for electric vehicles and boost the circular economy since 2020. A pilot plant to test and validate the refining process on a pre-industrial scale is about to be put into operation in Trappes, Eramet says.

The miner has previously said it expects the recycling market to grow tenfold by 2030, pointing out that Europe had no local industry for battery recycling. On Friday, its ceo Christel Bories said that “new ‘urban’ mines are being set up on European territory: as a responsible mining player, our role is to develop this resource and give it a second life, with a considerably reduced environmental impact.”

Upcoming European regulation will require that 90% of cobalt, copper and nickel, and 50% of lithium from spent batteries must be recycled by 2027. By 2031, the target increases to 95% for cobalt, copper and nickel, and 80% for lithium.