EcoPro BM said on Tuesday that it was in talks with a European company to build a cathode factory in the continent for a potential supply deal.
The Korean battery material firm is aiming to have the factory begin operating between 2024 and 2025.
It has received cathode supply request from multiple European companies, EcoPro BM CEO Kwon Woo-seok said at the firm’s conference call for the first quarter.
Various European battery companies __ from Northvolt of Sweden to Saft of France __ are preparing to begin production. World’s largest car maker Volkswagen has also announced that it plans to manufacture its own batteries.
The European Union had said it plans to spend 6 billion euros to manufacture 30% of the world’s battery by 2030.
Cathodes are a crucial component of batteries. EcoPro BM already supplies its cathode to Samsung SDI and SK Innovation, which are planning to expand their factories in Hungary.
Kwon also said the firm was developing high-manganese, or Mn-rich, cathode. These will be price similarly or as 30% cheaper than high-nickel cathodes with the same specs.
High-nickel cathodes have manganese account for around 10% to 20%. Mn-rich cathode aims to increase this by up to 60%. Manganese are cheaper and easier to procure than nickel.
EcoPro BM is planning to spend 240 billion won in facilities this year. EcoPro BM will spend 100 billion won, while EcoPro EM, its joint venture with Samsung SDI, will spend 140 billion won.
The new production line for NCA(nickel, cobalt and aluminum), CAM5 3 line, has begun operation recently and supply cathodes to Samsung SDI.
CAM5 2 line, which will manufacture NCM811(nickel, cobalt and manganese in 8 to 1 to 1 ratio), will begin operating within the first half of the year.
Kown said EcoPro BM is expected to secure an annual production capacity for cathode of 90,000 metric tonnes in 2022 and 180,000 metric tonnes in 2025.
The company recorded 263.4 billion won in sales and 18.9 billion won in operating income in the first quarter. This was an increase of 29% and 114%, respectively, from the same time period a year ago.