Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt will build a new nickel sulfate factory at Quzhou City, TheElec has learned.
The factory will produce 30,000 metric tonnes of the material when completed.
The move by China’s largest cobalt maker is aimed at lowering its reliance on cobalt, which is being used less, to secure price competence producing its own raw material.
The goods made in the factory will likely also be used by South Korean companies. Huayou Cobalt has joint ventures with LG Chem and Posco in China that produces precursors and anode materials, respectively. The venture with LG was founded in Quzhou in 2018.
Cobalt prices have been skyrocketing and there are rising concerns over human rights violation at their mining sites.
Nickel has high energy density and could increase electric vehicle (EV) batteries’ travel distance per charge.
Huayou Cobalt’s nickel sulfate production will also likely be a boon to Chinese battery makers. The material is needed to produce high performance anode material. South Korean firm EcoPro BM has formed two joint ventures with GEM, one in China and another in South Korea, for this reason. EcoPro BM is also investing in a nickel project in Vietnam with Australia mining company Blackstone Minerals.
South Korean firms Kemco and KG Enerchem also produces nickel sulfate but falls behind in volume to Chinese counterparts. Chinese companies is also fostering NCM(nickel, cobalt and manganese) batteries instead of lithium-ion phosphate (LFP) ones.
Precursors for anode materials include nickel sulfate, cobalt and sulfide. Cobalt, lithium hydroxide and other materials mixed together to make anode materials. Anode materials account for 40% of the cost of batteries.