South Korea’s LG Energy Solution said on Tuesday it has signed an agreement to buy a 7.5 percent stake in Australia-based Queensland Pacific Metals (QPM) for about 12 billion won ($10.76 million).
The transaction aims to increase the Korean battery maker’s footprint in the supply of key electric vehicle battery materials such as nickel and cobalt.
QPM, a smelting company established in 2007, is building a nickel sulfate and cobalt sulfate production plant for EV batteries with an eco-friendly new processing method in northern Queensland, Australia, with the goal of production in the second half of 2023.
LG Energy Solution also inked a long-term purchase contract with a stable supply of 7,000 tons of nickel and 700 tons of cobalt annually for 10 years from the end of 2023.
The company expects the transactions to help it respond preemptively to market dynamics in the supply of key EV battery materials.
Nickel is a major raw material for cathode materials and plays an important role in extending the driving range of EVs. In high-capacity lithium-ion batteries, the proportion of nickel in the cathode material is over 80 percent.
LG Energy Solution said it plans to gradually scale up production of a high-nickel NCMA — nickel, cobalt, manganese and aluminum-based battery for next-generation EVs from the second half of this year. The high-nickel NCMA battery with increased nickel content is regarded more cost effective with improvement in stability and output, as it lowers the proportion of expensive cobalt in the cathode material and adds inexpensive aluminum.
With the rapid growth of the EV battery market, securing key raw materials is also becoming one of the important sources of competitiveness, said Kim Myung-hwan, President and Chief Procurement Officer at LG Energy Solution, adding the company will continue efforts to build a strong value chain spanning core raw materials to batteries.
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