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POSCO Chemical secures six-year deal to supply synthetic graphite anode materials to GM-LGES joint venture

By Lim Chang-won Posted : December 5, 2022, 15:42 Updated : December 5, 2022, 15:42

[Courtesy of POSCO Chemical]

SEOUL -- POSCO Chemical, a coal chemistry and carbon material company affiliated with South Korea's leading steel group POSCO, has secured a six-year deal worth 939.3 billion won ($727 million) to supply synthetic graphite anode materials to a battery joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solution. 

GM's joint venture with LG Energy Solution (LGES), a major battery maker in South Korea, would receive synthetic graphite anode materials from POSCO Chemical's plant in the southeastern industrial port city of Pohang from 2023.

In July 2022, POSCO Chemical secured a three-year contract worth 13.7 trillion from GM to supply cathode materials for high-nickel batteries to the GM-LGES joint venture, Ultium Cells. Separately, POSCO Chemical and GM have agreed to build a joint venture plant in Quebec, Canada, to produce high-nickel cathode active materials for Ultium Cells from 2025. 

"We will actively promote the expansion of global customers based on our own technology and competitiveness in raw materials, and grow the business of cathode and anode materials in a balanced manner to become a global top-tier battery material company," POSCO Chemical CEO Min Kyung-joon said in a statement on December 5. 

POSCO Chemical will increase the production capacity of anode materials to 170,000 tons by 2025 and 320,000 tons by 2030.

Lithium-ion batteries work by passing lithium ions between a graphite anode and a lithium cobalt oxide cathode. Anodes play an important role in a high-capacity battery. The more ions the anode can hold, the higher its energy capacity. Graphite is widely used for its relatively low cost, abundance, high energy density, and long life cycle. 

Compared to natural graphite, synthetic graphite has a stable crystal structure to enhance the performance of batteries and is advantageous for fast charging. Synthetic graphite production has been led by Chinese and Japanese companies. POSCO Chemical, the only producer of battery-grade graphite in South Korea, completed a plant capable of producing 8,000 tons of synthetic graphite anode materials per year in December 2021.

POSCO Chemical runs a special research center in Pohang to develop high-capacity anode and cathode products. In November 2021, POSCO Chemical acquired a 15 percent stake in Inner Mongolia Sinuo New Material Technology, the Chinese producer of synthetic graphite anode materials.  

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