EcoPro will expand the sales of cathode and precursors to others, including competitors, the company’s chairman said on Friday.
Chairman Lee Dong-chae of EcoPro, the holding company of battery cathode maker EcoPro BM, told local tradeshow Pohang Global Battery Conference 2020 held at the city of Pohang that the conglomerate is planning to sell core materials used in batteries such as precursors and cathode to external parties.
This will help companies based in South Korea to reduce their reliance on imports for better inventory management.
Lee said the company was willing to supply its materials to rivals based in the country as well. Belgium company Umicore, a rival cathode maker, operates a factory at Cheonan, South Korea.
EcoPro is the process of localizing battery material production. The company has EcoPro BM, EcoPro GEM, EcoPro AP, EcoPro Innovation, EcoPro CnG and other firms as subsidiaries. These companies each product different materials used in the battery production process as well as recycling of used batteries.
Most cathode makers rely on China for precursors, Lee said, which decreased their cost competitiveness. EcoPro currently self-suppliers around 30% of the precursor it uses but it plans to increase this to 65% to 70% in the near future, the chairman said.
EcoPro was building a battery cathode cluster at Pohang. It is planning to invest over 1.7 trillion won for the project. EcoPro GEM begin building its factory in Pohang in 2018. EcoPro BM also begun construction of its factory in the city in 2019. EcoPro EM, a joint venture with Samsung SDI, also begun construction of its factory in Pohang this year. Other EcoPro affiliates are also planning to build factories in the area.
EcoPro is also discussing ways to react to RE100, in which 100% of energy used uses renewable energy, with battery cell companies and the government. This is largely in reaction the European Union’s plan to levy a carbon tax depending on carbon footprints of companies.
Cathode production requires a lot of power, Lee said, and being unable to use renewable energy in the next two to three years will hurt cathode companies’ competence. EcoPro will closely collaborate with its battery cell partners as well as governments, the chairman added.