US-based lithium-ion battery recycling company Ascend Elements has signed a joint venture agreement (JVA) with SK Ecoplant and its subsidiary e-waste recycling business TES.

SK will own 64% of this new JV, with Ascend owning 25% and TES holding 11%.

Ascend CEO Mike O’Kronley said: “For every new EV [electric vehicle] battery gigafactory that is built, we will need to build a new battery recycling facility to process manufacturing scrap and end-of-life batteries.”

“This is a capital-intensive endeavour, so joint ventures between strategically aligned partners is an ideal way to fund new infrastructure projects.”

As per the terms of the JVA, the parties will construct a lithium-ion battery recycling facility in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, US.

This $65m facility will have a total area of 100,000ft² and will disassemble approximately 24,000 tonnes (t) of EV batteries and gigafactory waste every year – or roughly 56,000 EV batteries annually.

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Construction is expected to begin in November this year and be completed in January 2025.

The plant is expected to create approximately 60 jobs and generate 12,000t of black mass annually.

Black mass is a fine powder that holds cathode and anode materials inside an EV battery.

The new SK/Ascend facility will also provide this black mass to Ascend’s Apex 1 battery recycling and engineered materials plant, also in Kentucky.

Ascend began construction on the $1bn Apex 1 project last year and is set to become operational next year. When fully operational, it will manufacture enough cathode precursors for nearly 750,000 new EVs annually.

Ascend secured a $542m investment round and obtained $480m from a grant from the US Department of Energy for this Apex 1 project.