A fire killed one person and caused three more to be injured at a lithium-ion battery materials plant in the central city of Cheongju, Korea.
The fire broke out on the fourth floor of the six-story building of cathode materials manufacturer EcoPro BM— based 140km from the country’s capital Seoul— on 21 January, according to the country’s news outlets.
The blaze began around 3pm and took 44 fire engines and trucks, and 125 firefighters four hours to extinguish.
News reports quote firefighters as saying explosions in the boiler room on the fourth floor may have sparked the fire.
Among four employees on the fourth floor, two were rescued and one jumped off the building sustaining a serious injury; all were sent to a hospital.
One person was found dead at 6:24 pm, the fire authorities are quoted as reporting.
The company’s website states Ecopro BM was established with the physical division of the battery material business unit from Ecopro in 2016 to respond promptly to such a rapidly changing market environment.
Halt in production
EcoPro BM has halted production at its cathode plant following the fire, and is unsure when it can restart production, according to Korea electronics media platform The Elec.
The factory houses CAM4 and CAM4-N production lines, that had accounted for 28% of the company’s total revenue.
CAM4-N lines were directly affected by the explosion and are expected to take longer to restart operation than CAM4, which was unaffected, reported the media outlet.
EcoPro BM plans to offset the drop in production capacity by commissioning its CAM5-N line faster than scheduled, and expanding the production volume of CAM5 and CAM6 (which is run by its subsidiary EcoPro EM, a joint venture with Samsung SDI), which are located at its plant at Pohang.
The company’s clients include Samsung SDI and SK Innovation.
CAM6 and CAM5-N have annual production capacities of 70,000 metric tonnes and 28,800 metric tonnes, respectively. CAM5 has 26,000 metric tonnes.