Ontario-based Electra Battery Materials says it has signed a battery recycling and cobalt sulfate supply agreement with Japanese conglomerate Marubeni Corp, Kallanish reports.

The memorandum of understanding encompasses sourcing of black mass derived from recycled lithium-ion batteries for Electra’s Canadian refinery and marketing of Electra’s cobalt sulfate in Japan, the companies say. Marubeni’s network of battery recyclers in Asia and elsewhere will assist in sourcing lithium-ion battery material for Electra’s hydrometallurgical recycling operation in Ontario, providing a stable source of materials to be recycled.

Electra says it intends to market a portion of its cobalt production into existing lithium-ion battery supply chains in Japan that are serving the North American market. 

“Marketing a portion of our cobalt production in Japan will lay the groundwork for further expansion opportunities as the North American market develops,” says ceo Trent Mell in a statement. 

The agreement will also help Electra diversify its black mass sourcing options for its lithium-ion battery recycling operations, Electra says.

Electra’s recycling operation is scheduled for commissioning in 2023. The refinery in Temiskaming Shores, Ontario, is on track to begin commercial operations in late 2022. It is being restarted and enlarged to produce 5,000 tonnes/year of cobalt. The company says it is in early talks with precursor manufacturers to partner on building a precursor plant at its Ontario site in 2025. It is also in talks with nickel suppliers to secure raw materials for its battery-grade nickel sulfate facility in 2024-2025. It would produce 60,000 t/y. The company has a four-step plan: the refinery recommissioning and expansion, the recycling of battery materials, the modular nickel sulfate plant and the battery precursor plant. Electra was formerly known as First Cobalt Corp.