Posco will be building a new lithium extraction plant at Gwangyang, the company said.
The plant will have an annual production capacity of 43,000 metric tonnes. Construction will start in the first half 2021. The plant will be completed in 2023.
The amount is enough to power a million electric vehicles a year.
It will be Posco’s first lithium extraction plant in South Korea.
The company collaborate with Research Institute of Industrial Science & Technology since 2010 to develop technology to extract lithium from brine and ore.
Posco ran a trail factory for two years within its steel mill at Gwangyang. The company is secured the necessary experience and personnel to run a full factory during the period, it said.
Either lithium carbonate or lithium hydroxide are used as material for cathode that goes into batteries.
The battery industry as mostly used lithium carbonate for the cathode so far.
The development of high-nickel batteries with over 80% nickel to extend traveling distance of electric cars has increased demand for lithium hydroxide. Cathode in high-nickel batteries use lithium hydroxide instead of lithium carbonate.
Posco will supply the lithium hydroxide produced at the extraction plant to Posco Chemical and other battery material companies.
Meanwhile, Posco is also planning to build a lithium plant with an annual production capacity of 25,000 metric tonnes near a lake at Argentina with a high lithium reserve within the year.
The firm is planning to secure an annual lithium production capacity of 220,000 metric tonnes by 2030.