Glencore agrees partnership to recycle cobalt, nickel and lithium from Morocco refinery


GLENCORE has agreed a partnership with African-based metals recycling company Managem to produce up to 1,200 tons of cobalt a year as well as nickel hydroxide and lithium carbonite.

In terms of their agreement, Glencore will source cobalt and nickel bearing products which it will treat at its facilities in Sudbury in Canada and Nikkelwerk in Norway. The material will then be supplied to Managem’s Morocco-based refinery for final recycling.

The partnership provides for a five year toll-treating arrangement but depends on a study into adapting Managem’s Morocco hydrometallurgical refinery to treat black mass – a term used to describe a refinery feed comprised of recycled lithium-ion batteries. The feasibility study would be completed this quarter, Glencore said.

“Glencore will market the recycled products to its global network of portable electronics and automotive customers as part of its continued commitment to support the transition to a low carbon economy, and to realise its own ambition of net zero total emissions by 2050,” the company said.

“The partnership highlights Glencore and Managem’s commitments to support the electric vehicle industry in achieving its metals recycling targets,” it added.

Glencore’s strategy to be carbon neutral by 2050 has come in for criticism as the company remains a major miner and marketer of thermal coal. Investors want to know how it squares up its environmental commitments with production of thermal coal.

Last year activist investor Bluebell Capital Markets said in a letter to the miner its strategy of retaining and running down thermal coal production made Glencore “… not an investible company for investors who place sustainability at the heart of their investment process”.

“We believe our business model is robust and the right one,” said Gary Nagle, Glencore CEO in response at the firm’s capital markets day. “The run-down [of coal] strategy is the responsible strategy for our business and the world,” he said. “We put it to our shareholders at the AGM and got a 94% approval.”

Glencore said it would produce 15% less coal by 2026 and have halved production by 2035. “That’s written in stone,” said Nagle.