LG's battery-making wing acquires stake in China's Greatpower to purchase nickel

By Lim Chang-won Posted : September 17, 2021, 14:21 Updated : September 17, 2021, 14:21

[Courtesy of LG Energy Solution]

SEOUL -- The battery-making wing of South Korea's LG Group will acquire a 4.8 percent stake in Greatpower Nickel & Cobalt Materials, a Chinese supplier of chemicals for lithium-ion batteries, for 35 billion won ($29.7 million), along with a six-year contract to purchase 20,000 tons of nickel from 2023.

The deal is part of efforts by LG Energy Solution (LGES) to secure a stable supply of core materials for the production of high-nickel batteries. Battery makers have tried to produce efficient batteries, such as NCM that contains nickel, cobalt and manganese. The proportion of nickel is high so that battery producers can save costs and extend the driving range. An upgraded model called NCMA increases stability by adding aluminum.

Cobalt, an expensive rare-earth element widely used in lithium-ion batteries, is vulnerable to sudden price fluctuations. Nickel is cheaper than cobalt. LGES aims to embark on the mass production of high-nickel NCMA batteries in the first half of 2022.

In a deal with Australian Mines in August this year, LGES will 71,000 tons of nickel and 7,000 tons of cobalt for six years from the second half of 2024 following a contract with Queensland Pacific Metals (QPM) in June to import 70,000 tones of nickel and 7,000 tons of cobalt for 10 years..

LGES has partnered with South Korea's Hyundai auto group to jointly invest $1.1 billion in the establishment of an equally-owned battery joint venture in Indonesia. Mass production of battery cells is to commence in the first half of 2024. The joint venture plant would produce 10 gigawatts hours (GWh) worth of NCMA battery cells every year

The LG Group aims to nurture its battery-making wing as a leading player in the global battery market through a steady injection of capital for pre-emptive facility investment and technical development. LGES will have production bases in five countries including South Korea, the United States, China, Poland and Indonesia. The company aims to boost its production capacity from 120GWh as of the end of 2020 to 260GWh by 2023.
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