Construction completed on the 10th in Gwangyang, Jeollanam-do for full-scale operation with an annual cathode production capacity of 90,000 tons.
Produce high-nickel cathode materials for future-generation EVs and supply them to global clients
Step-by-step enlargement process for improved production capacity, product diversification, quality, and raw material competitiveness
CEO Kyung-zoon Min "We hope to secure growth engines by accelerating global investment based on the Gwangyang cathode plant"
POSCO Chemical has completed the construction of the world's largest cathode material plant in Gwangyang, which will have an annual capacity of 90,000 tons and is starting full-scale operation. The plant is expected to play a crucial role in laying the groundwork as the company grows as a top-tier battery material producer, acclaimed for its production capacity, product diversification, and high-quality products and materials.
POSCO Chemical held a completion ceremony for the cathode material plant in Gwangyang, Jeollanam-do on November 10th. Approximately 100 business officials attended the event including Kyung-zoon Min, CEO of POSCO Chemical, Sung-hee Han, CEO of POSCO E&C, Sang-rak Song, Director of Gwangyang Bay Area Free Economic Zone Authority, and In-hwoa Chung, Mayor of Gwangyang.
Kyung-zoon Min, CEO of POSCO Chemical remarked in a commemorative speech, "We have established a foundation to respond to the rapidly growing market demand with the world's largest and most technologically advanced production base. We anticipate this milestone will help us to accelerate our overseas investment initiatives and continue to secure growth engines."
The newly constructed cathode material plant is expected to boost the annual production capacity from 30,000 tons to 90,000 tons and it has the world's largest production capacity based on a single plant. This annual production capacity is equivalent to the amount of cathode materials needed to produce batteries for 1 million high-performance electric vehicles.
The Gwangyang plant will specialize in producing *high-nickel NCMA and NCM cathodes, which are next-generation electric vehicle battery materials and supply them to global battery makers and automakers. In the future, the company plans to respond flexibly to changing market demands by introducing a wide range of product lines including *high-nickel single particle cathodes, *NCA cathodes, and Cathode Materials for ESS (Energy Storage System).
*High-nickel NCMA and NCM cathodes: materials made using nickel (N), cobalt (C ), manganese (M), and aluminum (A), with a high proportion of nickel to increase battery capacity.
*High-nickel single particle cathodes: materials with an integrated structure to maximize the proportion of nickel while increasing strength and thermal stability, used in both NCM and NCMA.
*NCA cathodes: material made with nickel, cobalt, and aluminum, with a high proportion of nickel.
The cathode plant was enlarged over four years and three months following a 4-step process, which took into account the condition of the market and the status of contracts, with the first step being breaking ground for a production plant with an annual production capacity of 5,000 tons in August of 2018. The site has a total area of 165,203㎡, which is equivalent to the size of 23 soccer fields.
The Gwangyang plant has evolved into a smart factory that enables faster and more efficient production of high-quality products, thanks to POSCO Chemical's accumulated know-how and technological expertise and POSCO Group's manufacturing, construction, and ICT prowess.
Continuous improvement in the process led to a 300% growth in the production capacity per line compared to the initial steps of construction. The entire process is operated unmanned, and a logistics system that can move raw materials and products rapidly at a speed of 5 meters per second using an air transport method is also equipped.
The company is actively pursuing RE100 and environmental management by installing solar power generation facilities that can produce about 1.3GWh of renewable energy annually on the roof and parking lots, and reducing wastewater generated during precursor production by 49% compared to the existing process through the introduction of pollutant reduction facilities and recycled use of water.
The POSCO Group is developing a full value chain cluster of battery materials near the Gwangyang plant, where the company can produce raw materials, intermediary materials, and cathode materials in one place. This cluster, which will bring the Group's material competitiveness into one place, will feature POSCO-Pilbara Lithium Solution, which produces 43,000 tons of lithium hydroxide per year, POSCO HY Clean Metal, which extracts lithium, nickel, and cobalt from recycled waste batteries, as well as a precursor plant with an annual capacity of 45,000 tons for the production of intermediary materials.
With the completion of the Gwangyang plant which has a 90,000-ton production capacity annually, POSCO Chemical has secured a total of 105,000 tons of cathode material production capacity, including the 10,000 tons from Gumi plant and 5,000 tons from its joint ZPHE plant in China. In addition, the company is currently building a 60,000-ton Pohang plant, a 30,000-ton ZPHE plant in China, and a 30,000-ton GM joint plant in Canada.
POSCO Chemical, which has built the world's largest and highest-level production base, plans to speed up the expansion of its global bases in North America, Europe, and China by responding more promptly and flexibly to prospective market changes and customer demands. Using the Gwangyang plant as a role-model plant, the company plans to become a top-tier battery material company with extensive R&D and an unparalleled product portfolio by expanding its cathode production capacity both at home and overseas to 340,000 tons in 2025 and 610,000 tons in 2030.
▲ Panoramic view of POSCO Chemical's cathode material plant in Gwangyang with an annual production capacity of 90,000 tons, the largest in the world for a single plant