Global materials technology and recycling group Umicore plans to invest €300 million ($327.5 million) between 2017 and 2019 to further increase its production of NMC (nickel-manganese-cobalt) cathode materials for lithium-ion rechargeable batteries.
The Brussels-based company says demand for its NMC materials from electric vehicle manufacturers is outpacing the market and the increased capacity will enable it to cater for a surge in orders. The investment in its plants in South Korea and China will also enable the company to meet growing demand for its proprietary high-energy LCO (lithium cobalt oxide) cathode materials used in high-end consumer electronics.
The plants in Cheonan (South Korea) and Jiangmen (China) are expected to be commissioned in late 2018. Combined with the €160 million ($174.7 million) investment announced last year, this will result in a more than six-fold increase in total capacity by 2020 compared to the levels of 2015.
Marc Grynberg, CEO of Umicore, commented, “The scale and scope of the investments underscore Umicore’s leadership in clean mobility materials and our commitment to support the rapid growth of our customers. It is rewarding that our strategic choices are now starting to bear fruit and we are excited about the prospects for our business.”