SK ecoplant invests $50m in US battery recycling firm

SK ecoplant CEO Park Kyung-il (right) and Ascend Elements CEO Michael O’Kronley pose for a photo after signing a deal at SK ecoplant’s US headquarters on Wednesday. (SK ecoplant)

SK ecoplant, the engineering and construction unit under SK Group, said Thursday that it has clinched a $50 million deal to become the largest shareholder of US battery materials recycling firm Ascend Elements.

The latest share purchase is part of SK ecoplant’s investments to foray into North American and European markets, according to the company.

Established in 2015 in Massachusetts, Ascend Elements is a manufacturer of advanced battery materials using elements reclaimed from discarded lithium-ion batteries.

The US company specializes in using its own technology to extract rare metals. Its patented hydro-to-cathode direct precursor synthesis technology produces new cathode materials from spent lithium-ion cells more efficiently than traditional methods, resulting in reduced cost, improved performance, and lowered greenhouse gas emissions.

SK ecoplant has been moving strategically to establish a value chain for its battery recycling business.

In February, it bought a 100 percent stake in Singapore-based electronics waste management solution provider TES Envirocorp for $1 billion.

Operating 43 e-waste and battery recycling facilities in 21 countries, TES also extracts precious metals such as cobalt from retired IT equipment for reuse.

SK ecoplant said through the investment in Ascend Elements and acquisition of TES, it will secure global clients to take significant market share in the battery reuse market which is expected to grow to worth 600 trillion won by 2050.

By Kim Da-sol (

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