Huayou Cobalt's subsidiary invests in LG Chem's cathode material plant

By Lim Chang-won Posted : May 31, 2022, 10:06 Updated : May 31, 2022, 10:06

[Courtesy of LG Chem]

SEOUL -- LG Chem, a chemical unit of South Korea's LG Group, will set up a joint venture with the subsidiary of its Chinese partner, Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt, as part of efforts to establish a stable supply network of raw materials through a series of preemptive investments and partnerships with foreign companies

Tianjin B&M Science and Technology (B&M), a battery material producer controlled by Huayou, will acquire a 49 percent stake in the joint venture, while LG Chem owns 51 percent. The joint venture would invest about 500 billion won by 2025 in LG Chem's cathode material plant, which is to be completed in 2024 in Gumi some 202 kilometers (126 miles) southeast of Seoul. 

The plant in Gumi will produce some 60,000 tons of cathode materials a year for NCMA batteries that contain nickel, cobalt, manganese and aluminum. The proportion of nickel is high so that battery producers can save costs and extend the driving range. Aluminum increases stability.
With B&M's investment, LG Chem said it will be able to stably secure metals, which are essential for the production of cathode materials, at a time when raw material prices are rising. Huayou guarantees the stable supply of core metals and supplies precursors through its joint venture with LG Chem in Quzhou in China's western Zhejiang province. 

The battery industry requires nickel and cobalt to be supplied in specific chemical forms for the production of precursors. LG Chem and Huayou have maintained a partnership since they signed a deal in 2018 to jointly produce key materials for lithium-ion batteries. 

"The establishment of the joint venture further cements our vertical integration system with key raw materials to produce affordable, high-quality cathode materials," LG Chem CEO Shin Hak-cheol said in a statement on May 31. LG Chem aims to boost its total cathode material production capacity to 260,000 tons by 2026 while trying to develop cobalt-free technology and single crystal cathode materials for all-solid-state batteries which are seen as a next-generation power source for electric vehicles as solid electrolytes.

Solid-state batteries can have a higher energy density than lithium-ion batteries and enable faster charging, higher voltage and longer cycle life. Compared to flammable liquid electrolytes, solid-state batteries have a lower risk of catching fire. LG Energy Solution (LGES), a battery-making subsidiary of LG Chem, has developed an all-solid-state battery that can be charged at high speed even at room temperature.
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