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Posco Holdings to boost EV battery value chain integration

By Byun Hye-jin

Published : Sept. 15, 2023 - 16:43

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Posco Holdings Chairman Choi Jeong-woo waves the company’s flag celebrating the company’s name change from Posco Group to Posco Holdings at the Posco Center in Gangnam, Seoul, March 2. (Posco Holdings) Posco Holdings Chairman Choi Jeong-woo waves the company’s flag celebrating the company’s name change from Posco Group to Posco Holdings at the Posco Center in Gangnam, Seoul, March 2. (Posco Holdings)

Posco Holdings said on Friday it has reduced its dependence on China by strengthening the integration of its electric vehicle battery value chain that covers mining and refining minerals, manufacturing materials and recycling batteries.

“It’s almost impossible to be a top-tier firm in the battery materials business without the vertical integration of manufacturing,” said Nam Sang-cheol, head of the research and development division at Posco Holdings, during the Korea Advanced Battery Conference 2023 hosted by SNE Research in Seoul. “The competition over securing raw materials, in particular, will be fierce.”

Along with its subsidiaries including Posco Future M, Posco Holdings is setting up global production bases for battery raw materials – lithium, nickel, cathode, anode, precursor and natural graphite -- Nam said.

The company is building a production plant for lithium hydroxide at the Hombre Muerto salt lake in Argentina and a nickel manufacturing plant in Indonesia, which has the largest nickel reserve. The lithium and nickel production facilities are scheduled to complete construction and start commercial operation in 2025.

It signed a long-term supply deal for natural graphite with a firm in Tanzania. Production facilities for precursors are under construction in Canada and Indonesia as well.

With the goal of hitting 62 trillion won ($46.7 billion) in sales by 2030, the company aims to produce 423,000 metric tons of lithium, 240,000 tons of nickel, 1 million tons of anode and 370,000 tons of cathode materials annually.

Highlighting the importance of eco-friendly battery recycling, Nam said the company is working on developing a closed-loop recycling system -- a one-stop process of converting a used product into raw materials to create a new one.

Nam added that the battery materials maker is also ramping up its development of next-generation battery materials.

“In terms of anode materials, (Posco Holdings and Posco Future M) are the only companies that manufacture both natural and artificial graphites. Our goal is to reduce the price of those materials,” said Nam. “We also plan to start commercial production of silicon-based anode from 2025.”

Posco is developing a cost-effective solid electrolyte, a key material for all-solid-state batteries, and plans to start operation of the pilot production line through its subsidiary Posco JK Solid Solution next year.