Chinese material makers are expanding their production capacity for precursors used in the making of batteries for electric vehicles.
The increase in production rate is to back the rise in volume for their South Korean cathode material making clients, people familiar with the matter told TheElec Wednesday.
Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt, China’s largest cobalt producer, is investing 6.25 billion yuan into producing nickel and precursor to reach an annual production capacity of 100,000 metric tonnes. NCM8X will account for 25,000 metric tonnes while NCM9X and NCMA will account for 12,500 metric tonnes each.
Huayou Cobalt has formed joint ventures with South Korean conglomerates LG Chem, Posco and Posco Chemical in the past two years, to produce cobalt, precursors and cathode materials.
The Chinese giant have close ties with Posco and Posco Chemical, forming two joint ventures, each for precursors and cathode materials, respectively. Meanwhile, Huayou only has one join venture with LG, which produces cobalt.
Back in January, Posco Chemical clinched a deal worth 1.853 trillion won to supply cathode materials to LG Chem, meaning any goods made by Huayou will go through Posco Chemical, then LG.
Another Chinese material producer, Shenzhen GEM, is also investing 2.425 billion yuan to increase its precursor production capacity to 30,000 metric tonnes per year within the next three years.
GEM, the largest precursor maker in China, has joint ventures with Korean companies EcoPro and EcoPro BM. Their joint venture in China is expected to have a production capacity of 24,000 metric tonnes by 2022 and 48,000 metric tonnes by 2024.
Back in February, EcoPro BM singed a 2.74 trillion won deal with SK Innovation to supply anode materials to the latter.
In the same month, the company announced it was forming a joint venture with Samsung SDI, each putting in 48 billion won and 72 billion won of capital.
GEM’s supply to EcoPro will, in turn, delivered to SK and Samsung.
EcoPro was keeping a close eye on the movements of Posco, one of the persons said, and is attempting to secure a favorable position over its rival in precursor supply line. Material suppliers were also keen to avoid supplying their goods to rivals of their current clients, they said.
Precursors accounts for around 40% of the cost in making batteries. They are used to mix cobalt sulfate with lithium hydroxide.