SQM Lithium Ventures Boosts Altilium with $9.43M Investment

SQM Lithium Ventures has invested $9.43 million in Altilium, a UK-based clean technology group committed to advancing the shift towards net zero, elevating its total investment to $12 million.

This further investment concludes Altilium's Series A financing round and represents SQM Lithium Ventures' most significant investment to date. SQM Lithium Ventures is the corporate venture division of Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile (SQM), a global leader in battery-grade lithium production.

The augmented investment follows a year of significant advancements in the scaling of Altilium's unique battery recycling technology, highlighting the shared dedication of both entities to foster a circular economy for eco-friendly and low carbon battery materials.

SQM Lithium Ventures initially invested $2.57 million in Altilium the previous year. Since then, Altilium has achieved numerous developmental milestones, including the expansion of its recycling facilities in the UK, the refinement of its EcoCathode hydrometallurgical process, and the fortification of its executive team.

The new funds will boost Altilium's expansion in the UK and Europe, facilitating the introduction of its comprehensive battery circularity service. This includes zero-carbon EV battery collection, black mass recycling, and chemical refining directly to cathode active material (CAM).

Key milestones anticipated for 2024 include:

  • The launch of a Small-Commercial Plant in Plymouth, Devon, covering 18,000 square feet, set to begin operations in mid-2024. This facility will process substantial quantities of battery precursors and cathode materials for automaker and cell manufacturer qualification.
  • Establishment of the first Battery Recycling Station, using the additional capital to efficiently convert discarded EV batteries into high-grade black mass, essential for Altilium's chemical refineries.
  • Initiation of European Hydrometallurgical Refining: Altilium plans to retrofit an existing plant in Eastern Europe to process 8,000 metric tons of black mass into EV battery intermediates by late 2024.
  • Development of the UK's largest EV battery recycling plant in Teesside, designed to process waste from 150,000 electric vehicles and supply 20% of the UK's Cathode Active Materials (CAM) demand by 2030.

Altilium President & COO, Dr Christian Marston, commented: "We are delighted to continue our relationship with SQM and excited about the journey ahead as we build a UK and European leader in battery recycling. We are immensely grateful for their belief in our business and our shared vision for achieving the lowest carbon footprint in battery raw materials."

Altilium CEO, Kamran Mahdavi, commented: "This round of funding with SQM Lithium Venture has been a pivotal achievement for Altilium and reflects the significant strides the business has made over the past 12 months. We look forward to building on these achievements with the support of our partners and our dedicated team."

Carlos Díaz, CEO of the Lithium-Potasium Division of SQM, commented: "The investment in Altilium gives SQM the chance to participate in the creation of a new industry: the recovery of critical minerals such as lithium, nickel, and cobalt from recycled batteries. This will allow us to add value to the new battery supply chain, while at the same time maintaining sustainable levels of resource consumption, water use and carbon footprint. SQM's top priorities include attracting technical talent to the company and associating ourselves with the world's most innovative startups, allowing us to maximize our impact in the industry."

David Rousselle, Engineering Manager at SQM and member of Altilium's board of directors, added: "Lithium batteries have become an essential component of modern society, as they're used in electric vehicles and electronic devices. Despite the importance of the circular economy, most lithium-ion batteries are still not recycled. In the US and EU, less than 1% of lithium-ion batteries are recycled, compared to 99% of lead-acid batteries. Given the growth in the electromobility market, lithium-ion battery recycling will be essential in the coming years. The investment in Altilium allows SQM to get ahead of the global recycling curve, doubling down on the company's commitment to developing solutions for human progress and working toward economic, social, and environmental sustainability."

In addition to providing capital investment, SQM Lithium Ventures also brings considerable experience in large-scale project delivery and a commitment to innovation and sustainability.

With substantial backing from UK Government Innovation grants, Altilium is leading the charge in the UK's journey towards establishing a national champion for EV battery recycling. Altilium's proprietary EcoCathode process converts old EV batteries and manufacturing scrap into domestic, sustainable, battery precursors, cathode active materials (CAM) and cathode precursor (p-CAM) for direct reuse in new batteries.

Recovering over 95% of crucial metals from old EV batteries will contribute to a UK domestic and sustainable supply of battery raw materials, reducing carbon emissions by over 50% and reducing the cost of cathode active material by more than 20% compared to conventional virgin mining practices.