Lyon County OKs temporary battery storage facility

The Lyon County Commission has approved McCarran-based company LiNiCo Corp.’s request for a conditional use permit to build a battery pre-recycling waste and salvage facility at the end of Industrial Parkway in Mound House.

LiNiCo, which produces lithium carbonate and graphite from lithium-ion batteries, will conduct operations at its 137,000-square-foot battery metal recycling center in the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center in Storey County set to open next year. Lyon County’s decision on Thursday for the Mound House site gives the company the ability to develop a transfer station on palletized bundles before shipping to a prerecycling facility apart from residential areas, receive and store batteries for a maximum of one year and then ship them to the Peru Drive facility in McCarran.

Lyon County planner Louis Cariola said the planned location for the waste and salvage facility involves two parcels at 200 and 350 Industrial Parkway in Mound House, with the site already having been disturbed and used in the past as the Haywood quarry. The excavation area has served as a past dumpsite for Lyon County. The parcels are 190 acres and 51.05 acres for a total of 241.05 acres, and there is no special flood hazard designated for Federal Emergency Management Area rate maps for either parcel and neither require a floodplain development permit. The quarry intermittently had been mined since the 1950s, Cariola noted. There are no processing operations currently.

Comstock Mining and LiNiCo Executive Chairman Corrado DeGasperis, presenting for LiNiCo, said the project is important as the company begins working to meet the demands for battery recycling.

“An extraordinary thing is happening with metals, and it’s tied to vehicles,” he said. “But the EV (electric vehicle) industry is clearly exploding to the tune of needing these metals.”

More than 10 million electric vehicles were on the road in 2020, according to the International Energy Agency. EV registrations grew by 41% over 2019, and the demand for lithium carbonate is outpacing what the lithium mining industry can supply.

DeGasperis projected an increase in demand of 60% nickel, 215% cobalt and 500% lithium for battery development, and he said recycling is critical to help meet the demands.

“The elements never deteriorate or get lost, but they need to get recycled so they can get purified,” he said.

Batteries to be received on site would be preapproved prior to delivery, with shipments to be inspected so they meet Nevada Department of Transportation requirements for labeling and markings for universal waste batteries. On-site security is planned, with staff to monitor the facility 24 hours a day, seven days a week, DeGasperis said. The site would create an initial seven jobs, but it has the potential to generate up to 15 positions.

LiNiCo also would be responsible for sorting the batteries according to type, mixing battery types in one container, discharging batteries to remove the electric charge, regenerating used batteries, disassembling batteries or battery packs into individual batteries or cells and removing batteries from consumer products. According to the project description, staff will not remove electrolytes from the lithium-ion batteries since the procedure involves destroying the battery casings.

DeGasperis said the request for the conditional use permit is because the temporary storage of the waste from batteries can only remain in the facility for no more than a year, adding safety and mobilization areas are important should a fire occur.

“We have to plan for these things,” he said. “We believe that prevention is the most important thing.”

The project includes establishing a 24-hour, on-site security system to monitor all batteries stored, with LiNiCo responsible for maintaining equipment to move hot batteries to a designated isolation area. Fire suppression and connection to the Central Lyon County Fire Department equipment to help refill fires as needed also has been outlined in the project description, with new fire access to be added to the upper portion of Mound House.

DeGasperis said traffic analysis has been completed for the project, and documentation provided by engineering firm Wood Rodgers showed the estimated traffic generated on site would be 160 trips per day at 120 trucks with 40 employee trips. LiNiCo, in its first phase for 2022-23 estimates 20 truck trips are expected per day, increasing that to 40 trips for 2023-24 and 120 trips for 2024 and beyond.

Support for the project was expressed at the meeting, and concerns were submitted through e-mail.

Don Bergstrom of Dayton said he supported the board’s approval of LiNiCo’s request for the CUP, stating he had known DeGasperis and members of the Comstock Foundation for many years.

“All of the people I’ve met within Comstock and LiNiCo have really been promoting history and really concerned with the preservation of history,” Bergstrom said. “From what I’ve seen, they’re always embracing, contacting the local communities, cities, wherever they’re working and making sure they’re well versed in whatever projects they’re working on.”

The motion was approved 5-0.


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