American Manganese on lookout for opportunities in Korea

07-May-2021 Intellasia | Koreaherald | 5:02 AM Print This Post

American Manganese, a Vancouver-based critical metals company, is seeking to tap into the South Korean battery market with its exclusive technology to extract key metals from defective batteries.

In an interview with The Korea Herald, its chief executive officer Larry Reaugh and chief technology officer Zarko Meseldzija revealed that the firm is in talks with multiple companies for partnership in Korea, home to three of the world’s leading lithium-ion battery makers.

“We are thinking about licensing or joint development,” said Meseldzija, the CTO, although declining to provide specific names due to non-disclosure agreements.

In what appears to be a related move, the company is currently finalising the registration of its core battery recycling technology with the Korean Intellectual Property Office. The firm received a notice of allowance in March from the patent office, which indicates that the given technology has cleared the office’s vetting process and is ready to be issued a patent.

The move comes as battery recycling gains traction globally amid growing environmental and supply chain concerns.

In South Korea, industry leader LG Energy Solution has joined hands with local steelmaker Posco to set up recycling facilities in Poland and in Korea. Poland is LGES’ production base for Europe. According to sources with the knowledge of the deal, Posco will grind up defective batteries into fine powder to extract critical metals such as nickel, cobalt and manganese from it.

In the lithium-ion battery field where defect rates during the manufacturing process tend to be high, mining valuable materials from defective products should be a necessity, the company said.

At Tesla, from 2017 to 2019, about 39 percent of electric vehicle batteries manufactured at its Gigafactory 1 in Nevada were defective. Through years of optimisation, LGES’ 70 gigawatt-hour battery factory in Poland recently managed to reach yield rate over 90 percent, which means around 10 percent of what’s produced there are still being thrown away.

American Manganese executives said their solution is a logical and economical answer to the issue.

“To me, this is just another mining project. If you don’t come up with proper solutions before you go into (battery) production, you won’t stay in the production,” CEO Reaugh said.

Meseldzija added: “Imagine you have a battery manufacturing facility, and it’s producing maybe 10-20 percent of scraps from their process. That’s an opportunity to integrate a recycling process within that facility and recycle them directly back to high-quality materials that can be used for remanufacturing of batteries.”

Lithium-ion batteries, defective or not, contain cathodes which are made of expensive metals such as nickel and cobalt and account for 25 percent of the cost of a whole battery.

American Manganese claims it can extract metals inside cathodes 99.7 percent with 99.9 percent purity.


Category: Korea

Print This Post

Comments are closed.