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Biden’s electric vehicle plan includes battery recycling push

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President Joe Biden’s strategy to make the United States a powerhouse in electric vehicles will include boosting domestic recycling of batteries to reuse lithium and other metals, according to government officials.

As Biden makes fighting climate change and competing with China centerpieces of his agenda, the administration is set to wrap up a 100-day review on Friday of gaps in supply chains in key areas, including electric vehicles (EV).

These gaps include the minerals used in EV batteries and consumer electronics. The administration is also looking for ways to reduce metal usage in new battery chemistries.

Reports from various government agencies will be submitted to the White House, a process Biden ordered in an executive order earlier this year. Parts of the reports could be released publicly as soon as next week.

Democrats are pushing aggressive climate goals to have a majority of U.S.-manufactured cars be electric by 2030 and every car on the road to be electric by 2040.

Securing enough cobalt, lithium and other raw materials to make EV batteries is a major obstacle, with domestic mines facing extensive regulatory hurdles and environmental opposition.

Reuters reported on May 25 that Biden plans to rely on mines in ally countries to supply much of the metals needed to build EVs.

The administration’s options to spur domestic recycling include direct investment in projects and scientific research, as well as spending funds approved by Congress.

Boosting domestic recycling would help the administration further that goal by breaking down older EVs into component parts for new vehicles and thus relying less on mining.

“When you look at the way the U.S. has approached the recycling opportunity, what’s very evident is we need to invest in that capacity, we need to take a more proactive approach,” said one of the administration officials.

“A big part of the lithium opportunity is really recycling, and being a global leader in recycling the lithium from existing batteries and driving that into these new batteries.” The White House would like to see more recycling plants open in the United States, one of the officials said, noting the announcement last fall by China’s Ganfeng Lithium Co of plans to build a battery recycling plant in Mexico to supply the U.S. EV market.

EMPHASIS ON R&D The administration’s emerging strategy will also include a heavy emphasis on research and development intended to boost the use of already-mined metals, the officials said. That plan would effectively expand on ongoing research at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, which has been the focal point for much of the government’s battery recycling research. Extracting the various mineral components of a battery has proven difficult and costly in the past, and new research focuses on ways to reuse cathodes and other battery parts, according to Argonne researchers. Washington’s recycling focus comes as other regions are doing the same. The European Union is considering clamping down on exports of metal waste to encourage more regional recycling, part of an effort to become climate neutral by 2050. [L5N2NL2YZ] Global EV sales topped 2.5 million last year, a figure that’s projected to jump 70 percent for 2021 and continue to rise through 2040, according to IHS Markit forecasts. Without recycling, the EV revolution would cause 8 million tons of battery scrap to be dumped in U.S. landfills alone by 2040, according to U.S. government estimates. An April report found that recycling end-of-life batteries could cut the projected need for new sources of copper for EV batteries via mining by 55% by 2040. For lithium, the figure is 25%, and for cobalt and nickel it’s 35%. Recycling will have the added benefit of cutting the demand for new mines, said the report, which was authored by the conservation group Earthworks and the University of Technology Sydney’s Institute for Sustainable Futures.

That would help Biden avoid some battles with environmentalists and other constituencies opposed to mining. “We can power the renewable energy transition without digging new holes in the ground,” said Payal Sampat of Earthworks. Lead acid batteries were once rarely recycled, but now nearly all are broken down for reuse in internal combustion engines. Environmentalists say that could be a blueprint for the EV recycling industry. Battery recycling plants have started to slowly open up in the United States. Last fall, Amazon.com Inc invested in Redwood Materials, a Nevada-based privately held recycling firm that has signed a deal to recycle scrap and battery parts from a Tennessee-based contractor for Nissan Motor Co’s Leaf electric vehicle. Tesla Inc has said it is developing a battery recycling system at its Nevada Gigafactory. The company also contracts with third-party recyclers.

And Apple Inc has started to recycle old iPhones and other electronics at a facility in Austin, Texas. The U.S. government is also the largest shareholder in mining investment firm TechMet, which is a major investor in Canadian battery recycler Li-Cycle Corp.

Li-Cycle Corp plans to go public later this year through a merger with blank-check acquisition company Peridot Acquisition Corp, shares of which gained 6% on Friday.

 

(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt in Washington and Ernest Scheyder in Houston; editing by Amran Abocar, Cynthia Osterman and Michael Perry)

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Britain in talks with 6 firms about building gigafactories for EV batteries

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Britain is in talks with six companies about building gigafactories to produce batteries for electric vehicles (EV), the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, citing people briefed on the discussions.

Car makers Ford Motor Co and Nissan Motor Co Ltd, conglomerates LG Corp and Samsung, and start-ups Britishvolt and InoBat Auto are in talks with the British government or local authorities about locations for potential factories and financial support, the report added .

 

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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EBay to sell South Korean unit for about $3.6 billion to Shinsegae, Naver

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EBay will sell its South Korean business to retailer Shinsegae Group and e-commerce firm Naver for about 4 trillion won ($3.6 billion), local newspapers reported on Wednesday.

EBay Korea is the country’s third-largest e-commerce firm with market share of about 12.8% in 2020, according to Euromonitor. It operates the platforms Gmarket, Auction and G9.

Shinsegae, Naver and eBay Korea declined to comment.

Lotte Shopping had also been in the running, the Korea Economic Daily and other newspapers said, citing unnamed investment banking sources.

South Korea represents the world’s fourth largest e-commerce market. Driven by the coronavirus pandemic, e-commerce has soared to account for 35.8% of the retail market in 2020 compared with 28.6% in 2019, according to Euromonitor data.

Shinsegae and Naver formed a retail and e-commerce partnership in March by taking stakes worth 250 billion won in each other’s affiliates.

($1 = 1,117.7000 won)

 

(Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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Canada launches long-awaited auction of 5G spectrum

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Canada is set to begin a hotly anticipated auction of the mobile telecommunications bandwidth necessary for 5G rollout, one that was delayed more than a year by the pandemic.

The 3,500 MHz is a spectrum companies need to provide 5G, which requires more bandwidth to expand internet capabilities.The auction, initially scheduled for June 2020, is expected to take several weeks with Canadian government selling off 1,504 licenses in 172 service areas.

Smaller operators are going into the auction complaining that recent regulatory rulings have further tilted the scales in the favour of the country’s three biggest telecoms companies – BCE, Telus and Rogers Communications Inc – which together control around 90% of the market as a share of revenue.

Canadian mobile and internet consumers, meanwhile, have complained for years that their bills are among the world’s steepest. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has threatened to take action if the providers did not cut bills by 25%.

The last auction of the 600 MHz spectrum raised C$3.5 billion ($2.87 billion) for the government.

The companies have defended themselves, saying the prices they charge are falling.

Some 23 bidders including regional players such as Cogeco and Quebec’s Videotron are participating in the process. Shaw Communications did not apply to participate due to a $16 billion takeover bid from Rogers. Lawmakers and analysts have warned that market concentration will intensify if that acquisition proceeds.

In May, after Canada‘s telecoms regulator issued a ruling largely in favour of the big three on pricing for smaller companies’ access to broadband networks, internet service provider TekSavvy Inc withdrew from the auction, citing the decision.

Some experts say the government has been trying to level the playing field with its decision to set aside a proportion of spectrum in certain areas for smaller companies.

Gregory Taylor, a spectrum expert and associate professor at the University of Calgary, said he was pleased the government was auctioning off smaller geographic areas of coverage.

In previous auctions where the license covered whole provinces, “small providers could not participate because they could not hope to cover the range that was required in the license,” Taylor said.

Smaller geographic areas mean they have a better chance of fulfilling the requirements for the license, such as providing service to 90% of the population within five years of the issuance date.

The auction has no scheduled end date, although the federal ministry in charge of the spectrum auction has said winners would be announced within five days of bidding completion.

($1 = 1.2181 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by David Gregorio)

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