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SQM venture arm invests $9.4 million in UK EV battery recycling firm Altilium

By Nick Carey

LONDON (Reuters) - SQM Lithium Ventures has invested $9.4 million in British electric vehicle battery recycler Altilium to help the company scale up its operations, the two firms said on Wednesday.

The corporate venture arm of Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile's (SQM) lithium business provided most of the $12 million Series A funding round for Altilium, following a $2.6 million investment by SQM, the world's second-largest lithium producer, in the startup last year.

"The investment in Altilium allows SQM to get ahead of the global recycling curve," David Rousselle, SQM's engineering manager and a member of Altilium's board, said in a statement.

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The rise in EVs has brought with it a race to recycle the valuable minerals in their batteries - primarily lithium, cobalt and nickel - which can be worth thousands of euros per car, and counter China's dominance of this field.

Altilium is one of a number of firms gearing up its recycling business in Europe, where today most EV batteries are shredded into 'black mass' that is shipped to China for processing.

The latest funding will help Altilium open a plant in England in 2024 to process cathode materials for automakers, recycling stations to turn battery cells into black mass, and a plant in eastern Europe to turn black mass into battery materials later in 2024.

(Reporting by Nick Carey; Editing by Jan Harvey)