Li-Cycle to build French battery processing facility

March 27 (Reuters) – Li-Cycle Holdings Corp (LICY.N) said on Monday it will build a French facility to break down batteries from forklift manufacturer The Kion Group (KGX.DE), marking the latest expansion by the rapidly growing recycling company.

The French facility, which is expected to open in 2024 and complement similar sites under development in Germany and Norway, will break down lithium-ion batteries that power Kion’s forklifts and other heavy machinery, giving Li-Cycle a fresh source of batteries to recycle beyond the consumer automobile market.

Li-Cycle declined to disclose how much it is spending on the French operation, though the company has a $40 million budget for the year to build such battery processing facilities across the globe.

“We believe strongly in a regional approach to recycling as our customers begin to localize their own supply chains,” Tim Johnston, Li-Cycle’s executive chairman, told Reuters. “Europe continues to be a growth center for electrification, so we are going to continue to grow there.”

Li-Cycle estimates that a majority of Kion’s 1.7 million forklifts are powered by lithium-ion batteries. Given their heavy use, those batteries are likely to wear down faster than those powering consumer automobiles.

Li-Cycle’s European plan is based in part on its North American hub-and-spoke network, in which the company has built collection and processing facilities across the continent to turn batteries into black mass, which is essentially shredded battery parts.

A central facility under construction in Rochester, New York, will further break down that black mass into lithium, nickel and other metals. Li-Cycle plans for now to produce black mass at its French and other European sites, and then ship that material to Rochester for processing, Johnston said.

The French announcement comes less than a month after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen visited Li-Cycle’s battery processing facility in Ontario.

Reporting by Ernest Scheyder Editing by Bill Berkrot