Battery giant LG Chem has entered a contract to create a joint venture with Kemco to produce precursors using metals produced and supplied by the latter as well as recycled metals extracted from used lithium-ion batteries.
A plant is planned as an exclusive line for NCMA (nickel, cobalt, manganese, aluminum) precursors that will be used for next-generation EV batteries, which LG Chem is focusing on in the Onsan Industrial Complex in Ulsan.
The recycling process of the joint venture combines dry and wet processes to maximise metal recovery rate and use a process that recycles waste water in the extraction process.
With this joint venture, LG Chem will be able to receive a stable supply of high-quality nickel sulfate, while procuring recycling capacities, and Kemco will procure a stable client as it expands its battery materials business portfolio.
Plans are to invest more than 200 billion KRW ($158 million) by 2024 to procure more than 20,000 tons of precursor production capacities annually such as applying recycled materials.
Construction is due to begin in July and mass production is expected to begin from Q2 of 2024 and will be supplied to the LG Chem Cheongju Cathode Materials Plant.
The joint venture will divide shares into KEMCO at 51% and LG Chem at 49%.
Kemco possesses one of the top capacities in the world through its nickel sulfate production capacity of 80,000 tons per year.
Based on the nonferrous metal smelting technologies of its mother company, Korea Zinc, it has the use of technologies for extracting core raw materials for batteries such as nickel, cobalt, and manganese.
Kemco CEO Choi James Soung commented, “Despite raw materials being a key issue throughout the world, nickel procured by KEMCO had nowhere else to go but for exports until now.
“Based on our world-leading metal smelting capabilities, we will contribute to the localization of precursors, which is the missing link in the Korean battery industry.”