Project partners aim to recover valuable resources from car batteries.
In addition to diversifying supply chains for rare earths and other critical minerals, building a circular economy for these resources is a pillar of many countries’ raw materials strategy. Currently, recycling efforts are only in their early stages and, according to the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), will not be able to meet the increasing demand caused by electromobility. Mitsubishi Materials, the sister company of Mitsubishi Motors, is now throwing its hat into the ring. As Nikkei (paywall) reports, the group plans to extract cobalt and other raw materials from the batteries of retired e-cars starting in 2024. A process for this is to be developed together with the project partner Envipor Holdings, the report continues. The costs for this are expected to amount to ten million dollars.
Japan wants to significantly reduce its dependence on imports of rare earths and other metals, which largely come from China. In addition to building up stocks and starting its own undersea mining, it is also working on developing vehicle engines that contain fewer rare earths or can even dispense with their use altogether. In addition, there are partnerships with other countries, such as resource-rich Australia.
Nissan – part of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance – has developed a different concept. For its successful Leaf model, the manufacturer relies on leasing instead of selling. In this way, Nissan has control over the resources used. Until now, many discarded e-cars have ended up in Russia or New Zealand, and the Japanese industry has thus missed out on these raw materials.