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POSCO Chemical signs a contract with Ultium Cells LLC of the U.S. to supply artificial graphite anode material for electric vehicle batteries worth KRW 939.3 billion


Signed a large-scale supply contract for artificial graphite anode material, a key material for batteries, for six years

First export following successful localization of artificial graphite anode material… Competitiveness achieved through self-supply of raw materials and portfolio expansion

Promotes expanding partnerships with global mass production capabilities and automobile & battery companies in response to strengthening supply chains by regions such as IRA

POSCO Chemical has signed a contract with Ultium Cells LLC of the United States for a large-scale supply of artificial graphite anode materials. It is targeting the global market by achieving its first export performance beyond the localization of materials.

On December 4th, 2022, POSCO Chemical signed a contract with Ultium Cells LLC to supply anode materials worth about 939.9 billion won. It will supply artificial graphite anode materials produced at the Pohang plant for six years from 2023 to 2028 to Ultium Cells LLC, a U.S. battery joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solution.

Compared to natural graphite anode material*, artificial graphite anode material* is mainly used for electric vehicle batteries because it increases battery charging speed and extends lifespan. Traditionally most of this material has originated in China, however, POSCO Chemical has localized production at its Pohang plant with an annual capacity of 8,000 tons in 2021. POSCO Chemical has been the only company in Korea to produce natural graphite anode materials since 2011.
*Artificial graphite anode material : Due to the nature of raw material processing at high temperatures, it has high stability due to low material expansion, and the isotropic structure with evenly spherical particles allows for fast lithium-ion movement speed, which is advantageous for high-speed charging.
*Natural graphite anode material : Natural graphite is processed as raw material and is a plate-shaped structure in which particles are layered, and there is a lot of space between the particle structures, resulting in a large energy storage capacity.

In particular, POSCO Chemical has internalized the entire value chain from raw materials to final production by sourcing needle coke*, a raw material, from PMC Tech, a carbon material subsidiary. In addition, manufacturing costs were reduced by utilizing self-developed manufacturing technology, quality control, and smart factory processes.
*Needle coke : Artificial graphite raw material made by high-temperature dry distillation of coal tar generated as a by-product during coke manufacturing in the steelmaking process

Based on this competitiveness, POSCO Chemical plans to strategically respond to regional supply chain strengthening policies such as an implementation of the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) by promoting the anode material business in North America and Europe through partnerships with automakers and battery companies. By actively expanding its global mass production capacity, it plans to increase its anode material production capacity from the current 82,000 tons a year to 170,000 tons in 2025 and 320,000 tons in 2030.

In addition to this contract, POSCO Chemical has continuously signed large-scale anode and cathode material supply contracts with Ultium Cells LLC* in North America and Korea, further solidifying its position as a key supplier of electric vehicle battery materials in the global market.
*Ultium Cells : To rapidly expand GM’s electric vehicle portfolio, it started battery cell production in Ohio earlier this year, a second plant will launch in 2023 in Tennessee, and construction of a third plant is underway in Michigan.

In May of 2022, it established Ultium CAM, a joint venture for cathode materials, in Quebec, Canada, with GM, and signed a contract to supply cathode materials worth more than 21 trillion won from North America and Korea this year. It plans to expand cooperation to establish a supply chain for key materials for electric vehicle batteries such as expanding cathode material factories and building new precursor factories, which are intermediate materials.

Kyung-zoon Min, CEO of POSCO Chemical, said, “As the only anode material company in Korea, we have completed a complete value chain from raw materials to material production, and our business competitiveness through product portfolio expansion led to a result of contracts. Based on our technology and competitiveness in raw materials, we will expand our global customers and develop our cathode and anode material business in a balanced manner to become a global top-tier battery material company.

▲ Production facilities in operation at POSCO Chemical’s artificial graphite anode material plant.

▲ Anode materials are being manufactured using automated robots at POSCO Chemical’s artificial graphite anode material plant.

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