POSCO is the only company in the world to supply core materials for electric vehicles, from raw materials for rechargeable batteries, such as lithium and nickel, to cathode/anode materials, electrical steel sheets and Giga steel.
POSCO Group CEO Jeong-woo Choi said, “We have established a full value chain for rechargeable battery core materials and gained a foothold to enter the global market…We will improve Korea’s competitiveness by stabilizing domestic supply chains.”
On November 29, POSCO Group completed the construction of the lithium hydroxide plant for POSCO-Pilbara Lithium Solution in the Yulchon Industrial Complex in Jollanam-do and the high-efficiency, Hyper NO (non-oriented electrical steel sheet) plant in POSCO Gwangyang Works.
With the opening of its lithium hydroxide plant, POSCO Group will become the first company to commercially produce the primary raw materials for rechargeable batteries in Korea, which are a vital driver for POSCO’s new growth. In addition, POSCO has established a foothold to lead the global material market for green vehicles by building an additional Hyper NO plant with the world’s best technology.
POSCO Pilbara Lithium Solution, founded in 2021, is a joint venture between POSCO Holdings and Pilbara Minerals, an Australian miner. The company aims to establish a manufacturing system by 2024 capable of producing 43,000 tons of lithium hydroxide annually for rechargeable batteries, utilizing Australian ore lithium. The first plant has an annual production capacity of 21,500 tons, and the second plant with the same capacity will be operational in 2024. The annual volume of lithium hydroxide, 43,000 tons, is sufficient to manufacture 1 million electric vehicles.
On the same day,, POSCO Group completed the construction of its first Hyper NO plant, with an annual production capacity of 150,000 tons, to meet the increased demand for steel used for global green vehicles and premium home appliances. POSCO Group plans to complete the construction of its second plant with the same annual production capacity as the first plant by 2024 to establish a Hyper NO production system with a total annual production capacity of 400,000 tons (300,000 tons in Gwangyang and 100,000 tons in Pohang). With this capacity, the system can manufacture drive motor cores for 5 million electric vehicles.
POSCO Group CEO Jeong-woo Choisaid at the plant’s completion ceremony, “POSCO Group is now able to produce the core raw material lithium for rechargeable batteries in Korea and scale up the supply of high-efficiency electrical steel sheets. This will make POSCO a frontrunner in the global green vehicle market, enhance Korea’s competitiveness, and position POSCO as one of the representative companies producing eco-friendly future materials.”
POSCO Group has developed its own technology to extract lithium from ores, resulting in successful domestic production of lithium hydroxide previously sourced exclusively from overseas. This contributes to stabilizing the supply chain of raw materials for rechargeable batteries in Korea. Furthermore, benefits from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) can be expected since the entire manufacturing process, from procuring raw materials from Australia to processing them in Korea, occurs in the USA and countries that have signed FTAs.
Additionally, the expansion of the Hyper NO plant will assist POSCO in alleviating Korean customers’ concerns about potential supply shortages of raw materials for green vehicles. This will contribute to enhancing Korea’s industrial competitiveness. In the future, POSCO Group will explore the construction of a new plant in North America to increase production of electrical steel sheets. The aim is to achieve an annual production capacity of 1 million tons by 2030 in response to the fully established global electric vehicle market.
POSCO Group has bolstered its steel and rechargeable battery material businesses with the launch of its holding company in March of last year to complete a core material portfolio for the eco-friendly mobility industry.
Improving cathode material performance, increasing motor efficiency and reducing vehicle weight are crucial to enhancing the mileage of green vehicles. POSCO Group is the only company in the world that produces all the lithium hydroxide for high-nickel cathode materials, which is a high-capacity rechargeable material, Hyper No to significantly increase motor efficiency by reducing energy loss, and ultra-high-strength, lightweight Giga steel.
In the future, POSCO Group will increase POSCO Pilbara Lithium Solution’s ore lithium production capacity to 220,000 tons with the completion of the lithium hydroxide plant. In addition, it plans to build a 100,000-ton production system for brine lithium in a total of four stages by completing the first and second plants utilizing Argentina’s brine resources, starting from next year. Also, the company will continue to increase its global lithium production capacity by exploiting unconventional lithium resources in North America, such as clay lithium and oil-field brine lithium, to produce 423,000 tons of lithium annually by 2030.
Meanwhile, POSCO Group plans to establish a full value chain for rechargeable batteries with an annual production capacity of 240,000 tons of nickel, 70,000 tons of recycling, 1 million tons of cathode material, 370,000 tons of anode material and 9,400 tons of next-generation materials in addition to lithium such as ore and brine.