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Copyright 2018 The Korea Times
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Korea Times
March 11, 2018 Sunday
515 words
Samsung SDI, POSCO to build cathode plant in Chile
By Kang Seung-wooA Korean joint venture will build a plant in Chile by 2021 to produce a key raw material in lithium-ion batteries used to power electric cars.

Samsung SDI's EV batteries / Courtesy of Samsung SDIAccording to the Samsung SDI-POSCO consortium, Sunday, they will spend 57.5 billion won ($54 million) for the factory in the Chilean port city of Mejillones and the facility will be capable of manufacturing 3,200 tons of cathode per year starting the second half of 2021.Samsung SDI is the nation's leading small-sized lithium battery supplier and POSCO is the world's fifth-largest steelmaker.The plan is part of the Latin American country's value-added lithium projects, launched last year, to expand its mining and industry sectors by taking advantage of its rare and pricey metal and Samsung SDI and POSCO made a joint bid for it. Chile holds the world's largest reserves of the metal.Following two rounds of the selection process, the consortium, along with China's Sichuan Fulin Industrial Group and Chile's Molymet, was selected to make an investment in the project, Friday, according to Chilean state development agency CORFO. Initially, 12 companies from seven countries, including Canada and Belgium, applied to manufacture lithium-linked products in Chile.According to the consortium, lithium coming from Chile will be used to produce the nickel-cobalt-manganese and nickel- cobalt-aluminum cathodes at the new plant.Depending on the market conditions, Samsung and POSCO plan to construct additional production lines in the future.In May of 2017, the CORFO asked the battery maker to apply for the Chilean project and Samsung formed the alliance with POSCO to join the bidding in a month.The joint venture is offering a win-win deal for both companies.Samsung SDI said the plant will help the company gain a competitive edge by securing a steady supply of the crucial ingredient in the production of electric-vehicle (EV) batteries as global players are increasingly scrambling to secure the metal amid fast-emerging demand for electric cars.

POSCO is also expected to establish itself as a solid player in the global cathode market after setting up two separate joint ventures with China's Huayou Cobalt in January to produce cathodes and precursors from the second half of 2020.'The joint venture from the Chile lithium projects is anticipated to play a crucial role in steadily supplying the metal for the emerging EV battery industry,' said Samsung SDI CEO Jun Young-hyun.According to Samsung, the cathode market is expected to grow to 860,000 tons by 2020 from 210,000 tons in 2016 as global demand for high-end, large-sized lithium ion batteries used in electric cars and energy storage systems is on the rise.According to the battery maker, it is also exploring ways against surging prices for cobalt, another main material of the lithium-ion batteries.To this end, the Seoul-based company is tweaking the recipe for lithium-ion batteries to reduce the amount of cobalt needed, while considering recycling worn-out lithium batteries, which means pulling out cobalt and other key components.It has been searching for new countries to source the metal instead of the Democratic Republic of Congo that has raised taxes on it.
March 11, 2018
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