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POSCO Chemical expands its production capacity for artificial graphite anodes
- POSCO Chemical has begun the construction of a phase 2 artificial graphite anode production plant with an annual capacity of 10,000 tons at the Blue Valley National Industrial Complex in Pohang.
- By the second half of 2024, POSCO Chemical expects to establish an artificial graphite production system with a total annual capacity of 18,000 tons, including 8,000 tons from its existing phase 1 plant.
- POSCO Chemical aims to respond proactively to growing demand as evidenced by material supply chains growing outside China and to secure leadership in the global market.
POSCO Chemical is gearing up to expand its production capacity for artificial graphite anodes.
On January 31, POSCO Chemical began the construction of a phase 2 artificial graphite anode production plant with an annual capacity of 10,000 tons at the Blue Valley National Industrial Complex in Pohang, Gyeongsangbuk-do.
In December 2021, POSCO Chemical launched a phase 1 plant for artificial graphite anodes with an annual production capacity of 8,000 tons and became the first in South Korea to localize their production. When its phase 2 plant, whose completion is scheduled for the second half of next year, starts operating, the company will have a total production capacity of 18,000 tons. This is an amount that can be used for some 470,000 electric vehicles that travel on the 60 kWh battery pack.
Currently, the global EV anode market is dominated by artificial graphite. This is because artificial graphite has the advantage of extending battery life and shortening charging time compared to natural graphite. According to KOTRA, as of 2022, artificial graphite accounts for 83% of the global market, with Chinese companies occupying most of the market.
POSCO Chemical produces artificial graphite by using needle coke. It is obtained by processing coal tar, which is generated as a by-product of the steelmaking process. Needle coke is supplied from POSCO MC Materials, a POSCO subsidiary; POSCO secures the market for steel by-products while POSCO Chemical secures stable raw materials, improving resource circulation and completing the value chain within the group.
On the strength of the competitiveness of that value chain, in December last year, POSCO Chemical managed to land a 939.3 billion KRW contract with Ultium Cells, a battery joint venture between the U.S. company GM and LG Energy Solutions, to supply it with artificial graphite anodes. The supply period will be a total of six years from 2023 to 2028.
This marks South Korea’s first overseas export case of artificial graphite anodes following their localization, and POSCO Chemical plans to complete its phase 2 plant in a timely manner to ensure smooth supply of the contracted quantity.
In addition, the company also plans to secure leadership in the artificial graphite anode market by responding proactively to the continuously increasing global demand, as evidenced by the expansion of material supply chains in the battery industry outside China following the implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in the U.S.
(Image description) Automated robots manufacture anodes at POSCO Chemical's phase 1 production plant for artificial graphite anodes, the construction of which was completed in December, 2021.