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POSCO Future M Initiates Construction of World’s Largest Cathode Material Plant

With the groundbreaking of its fifth NCA cathode plant in Gwangyang, POSCO Future M sets a global benchmark for EV battery component manufacturing
South Korea
p 003670.KO Blue Chip 150
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POSCO Future M Co., the country’s No. 1 supplier of battery materials, held a groundbreaking ceremony for its fifth cathode materials plant in Gwangyang, South Jeolla Province. Launched on Thursday, this factory will serve as yet another stepping stone in creating the world’s biggest production base for cathode materials. The new facility will boast an annual capacity to churn out enough nickel, cobalt, and aluminum (NCA) cathode materials for 52,500 tons. Such output can be used in 60-kilowatt-hour batteries for 580,000 electric vehicles (EVs). Gwangyang-based Samsung SDI Co. will be the exclusive buyer for the plant. The factory’s construction will be completed by April next year. The completion will bring the total to a whopping 142,500 tons of cathode materials across five factories in POSCO’s Gwangyang complex alone. “Our CEO Kim Jun-hyung announced a goal of ramping annual production up to 1 million tons by 2030 during the groundbreaking ceremony,” a POSCO Future M spokesman said.

POSCO has announced plans to construct a new cathode material factory in Gwangyang, South Jeolla Province, South Korea, at a cost of 150 billion won (around $124 million). The plant, to be built by its cathode-making unit POSCO Chemical, is expected to start operations in November 2021 and will have 10,000 tons in annual production capacity. It now operates a total of four cathode material plants in Gwangyang with a combined capacity of 90,000 tons per year. Once the fifth factory is complete, it will not only allow an increase in terms of production volumes, but it will also be used to produce single-crystal NCA cathodes in mass quantities, providing higher production value through improved safety and thermal stability and by extending battery lifespan.

POSCO Future M, which is a subsidiary of POSCO and South Korea’s largest steelmaker, POSCO Group, started making its single-crystal cathodes for nickel, cobalt, manganese, and aluminum (NCMA) batteries last year, marking a big leap in the EV battery market. The company also has plans to build two more cathode material plants in Gwangyang, where it aims to take its annual production there to over 200,000 tons.

Apart from Gwangyang, it is also building an NCA (nickel, cobalt, and aluminum) battery cathode plant in Pohang, North Gyeongsang Province, with plans to come online by the end of this year. The two plants will predominantly be used to produce single-crystal nickel-rich cathode materials for high-performance EV batteries.

POSCO Future M, the only producer in South Korea of anode materials for the EV battery industry, sources its natural graphite-based anode materials from the natural graphite* mines in China. Due to the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which is enforcing critical mineral and material value requirements for front-end supply chains of EV batteries, the company is considering investing in African-based, including Madagascan, natural graphite mines to gain these tax incentives and fortify resilience for the entire supply chain.

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