|POSCO Chemical's artificial graphite anode material plant in Pohang, North Gyeongsang Province / Courtesy of POSCO Chemical|
By Park Jae-hyuk
POSCO Chemical signed a $689 million contract to supply artificial graphite anode materials produced at its Pohang plant in North Gyeongsang Province between 2023 and 2028 for Ultium Cells to produce electric vehicle (EV) batteries, the Korean chemical firm said Monday. Ultium Cells is a U.S. joint venture between GM and LG Energy Solution.
This is the first time for POSCO Chemical to export its EV battery materials.
Artificial graphite anode material has advantages in battery-charging speed and lifespan compared to natural graphite, but due to difficulties in procuring raw materials and high manufacturing costs, China has mainly produced the EV battery material.
In December 2021, POSCO Chemical succeeded in the domestic production of the material with an annual capacity of 8,000 tons. POSCO Chemical has also been the only Korean producer of natural graphite anode material since 2011.
In particular, the company has internalized the entire value chain from raw materials to final production by sourcing needle coke from PMC Tech, its carbon material subsidiary. In addition, manufacturing costs were reduced by utilizing self-developed manufacturing technology, quality control and smart factory processes.
Based on these advantages, POSCO Chemical seeks to comply with the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act by pushing ahead with its anode materials businesses in North America and Europe through partnerships with carmakers and battery firms there.
The company plans to increase its annual anode material production capacity to 170,000 tons in 2025 and 320,000 tons in 2030.
"The completion of a perfect value chain and expansion of our product portfolio led us to win the order," POSCO Chemical CEO Min Kyung-zoon said. "Based on our technologies and ability to secure raw materials, we will become a top-tier global battery material supplier by aggressively attracting global customers and pursuing balanced growth in our cathode and anode materials businesses."