SEOUL -- POSCO Chemical and General Motors will build their joint venture plant in Quebec, Canada, to produce high-nickel cathode active materials. Construction will begin immediately with an initial investment is $400 million. The two companies would gradually increase the amount of investment.
POSCO Chemical said the plant in Becancour would become a stepping stone for its drive to build a supply chain of core battery materials in North America, where the electric vehicle market is rapidly growing. High-nickel cathode active materials produced at the Quebec site will be supplied to Ultium Cells, a battery joint venture between GM and its South Korean partner, LG Energy Solution.
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. Nickel is cheaper than cobalt, which is an expensive rare-earth element widely used in lithium-ion batteries and is vulnerable to sudden price fluctuations.
POSCO Chemical is the first battery material company to form a joint venture for cathode active material with an automobile company in North America. By partnering with global automakers, the South Korean company can minimize the risk of large-scale overseas investment and enter the North American market stably.
"We will lead the successful transition to the EV era by further strengthening the strategic partnership with GM and securing a production line with world-class technological competitiveness," POSCO Chemical CEO Min Kyung-zoon said in a joint statement.
POSCO Chemical, a unit of South Korea's top steel group POSCO, is pushing for the production of 220,000 tons of lithium and 100,000 tons of nickel by 2030. Group chairman Choi Jeong-woo has presented the goal of becoming a top player in the global battery material market by completing a value chain.
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