LG Chem will form two joint ventures with China’s Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt to secure supplies of cobalt for Li-ion batteries. Huayou Cobalt is the world’s largest producer of refined cobalt, delivering 20,000 tons in 2017. LG Chem will invest KRW 239.4 billion (USD 224 million) by 2020 to establish two joint ventures: one for precursor materials, the other for cathode materials.
The precursor joint venture will be established in Zhuzhou City, Zhejiang Province, China, and LG Chem will take a 49% stake. The cathode JV will be established in Wuxi City, Jiangsu Province, China, and LG Chem will secure a 51% stake.
The joint ventures will start producing about 40,000 tons/year of precursor and cathode materials from 2020. The 40,000-ton capacity is enough to manufacture about 400,000 battery packs for EVs with about 320 km range (~200 miles). LG Chem said it plans to increase capacity to 100,000 tons/year in the future.
LG Chem plans to use the precursor and cathode material produced in the plant at its Nanjing battery plant in China (completed in 2015, production of batteries for small, electric cars, and ESS) and its plant in Wroclaw in Poland (groundbreaking in 2016, battery production for electric vehicles).
LG Chem has been working to establish a stable supply and demand system for raw materials for batteries. In 2016, LG Chem acquired the cathode material business from GS Energy Corp.’s subsidiary GS EM.
In November 2017, the company acquired a 10% stake in Kemco (a subsidiary of Korea Zinc), a nickel sulfate producer, for KRW 1 billion (USD 935,000). Korea Zinc is the world’s largest producer of zinc, lead, silver, and indium.
Kemco plans to begin production of nickel sulfate this year at a new factory with an annual capacity of 20,000 tons. It also plans to gradually up the factory capacity to 80,000 tons per year in the following years.
LG Chem will begin receiving Kemco nickel sulfate—a core raw material for Li-ion batteries—beginning in mid-2018.