South Korean steelmaker Posco is reportedly to build a $100 million lithium-ion cathode plant in the country next year as it expands its presence in the global batteries and raw materials market.
Posco’s new facility in Gwangyang, 423 kilometres southwest of Seoul, will have an annual production capacity of 6,000 tons, the company told South Korea’s Yonhapnews agency.
Production capacity will be gradually expanded “to 50,000 tons of the key material needed to produce rechargeable lithium car batteries by 2022”, Posco said.
The announcement comes just weeks after Posco confirmed it was part of an international consortium— including South Korean battery maker Samsung SDI— set to invest in developing battery materials facilities in Chile.
Gwangyang is already home to a lithium extraction plant Posco opened in February 2017 to supply lithium phosphate to its own battery-related joint venture— Posco EMS— in addition to Samsung SDI and LG Chem.
The country’s biggest steelmaker also operates an 8,000-ton-a-year lithium-ion cathode plant in Gumi, 260km southeast of Seoul, and plans to increase capacity there to 12,000 tons within the year, according to the company.
The 62,000 tons of cathodes that can be made from the two plants can be used to produce lithium batteries for about one million electric cars, Posco told Yonhap.
Posco said it expects to start earning KRW2 trillion ($1.9 billion) in sales from its cathode business alone in 2022, “sharply up from the KRW33.4bn in 2016.
“As global demand for large batteries used in electric vehicles and industrial energy storage systems is on a rapid rise, the global cathode market is expected to more than quadruple to 860,000 tons in 2020 from 210,000 tons in 2016,” Posco said.
BBB reported last February that Posco and Chinese mining company Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt had agreed to form two new joint ventures to produce lithium-ion battery materials from bases in China.