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Joint venture by Ascend Elements and Elemental Strategic Metals to innovate EV battery recycling in Europe

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Ascend Elements, a U.S. firm, and Elemental Strategic Metals from Poland have established a joint venture named AE Elemental to recycle electric vehicle batteries. Their inaugural plant in Poland is operational, with plans for another facility in Germany. Although the companies haven’t disclosed the exact investment figures, they aim to secure funding from the European Union and local governments.

Given the EU’s directive to increase battery recycling over the next decade, Ascend Elements CEO Mike O’Kronley emphasized the importance of investing in infrastructure to maintain battery materials within Europe’s supply chain.

The Zawiercie plant in southern Poland, developed jointly, has a capacity to recycle up to 12,000 metric tons of batteries annually, equivalent to about 28,000 electric vehicles. The process involves shredding EV batteries to create a black mass, which is then further processed to extract lithium and other battery materials for use in new electric vehicles.

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Additionally, a lithium extraction plant, scheduled to open in 2026 at the same site in Zawiercie, will process up to 20,000 metric tons of black mass per year to extract lithium.

Ascend also intends to establish a separate plant for battery material recycling. While permitting has been finalized for a facility in central Germany capable of recycling up to 25,000 tons of batteries annually, the exact location remains undisclosed.

Ascend has secured approximately $700 million in equity funding and received $480 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Energy under the Biden administration’s initiatives to bolster EV battery production. Elemental Strategic Metals, part of the Element Group, has raised $290 million in equity funding and is nearing completion of another funding round.

CEO Michal Zygmunt highlighted the collaborative advantage in sharing capital expenditures, emphasizing the urgency of their joint efforts to accelerate progress.

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