SQM resumes its lithium operations in Chile after the lifting of blockades

SQM invests nearly US$10 million in the battery recycling company Altilium

Financial Diary – Santiago

SQM Lithium Ventures invested US$ 9.4 million in the British electric vehicle battery recycling company Altilium to help it expand its operations, both companies said Wednesday.

The corporate arm of the lithium business of Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile (SQM) contributed the majority of the US$12 million series A financing round for Altilium, following an investment last year in the US$2.6 million startup from SQM, the world’s second-largest lithium producer.

“The investment in Altilium allows SQM to get ahead of the global recycling curve,” David Rousselle, SQM engineering director and Altilium board member, said in a statement.

The rise of electric vehicles has brought with it a race to recycle the valuable minerals in their batteries -mainly lithium, cobalt and nickel-, which can be worth thousands of euros per car and counteract Chinese dominance in this field.

Altilium is one of the companies that is strengthening its recycling business in Europe, where most electric vehicle batteries are turned into “black mass” that is sent to China for processing.

Latest funding will help Altilium open a plant in England in 2024 to process cathode materials for car manufacturers, recycling stations to convert battery cells into black mass, and a plant in Eastern Europe to convert black mass into battery materials later in 2024.