Batteries: GEM signs agreement to supply 170kt of raw materials to ECOPRO

Chinese battery materials producer GEM has signed a memorandum of understanding with ECOPRO of South Korea, with an aim to supply 170tk of nickel-cobalt-aluminium oxide (NCA) over the next five years. The deal includes supply of 16kt in 2019, increasing to 24kt in 2020 and 40kt in 2021. NCA is one of the main materials used in the production of lithium-ion batteries for use in electric vehicles.

GEM will also offer nickel hydroxide and share technology to produce sulphate from cobalt and nickel hydroxide with ECOPRO. GEM currently has a battery raw materials production capacity of 60ktpy.

Roskill view:

Ecopro and GEM initiated their JV in August 2016 with the aim to produce cathode materials for lithium-ion batteries in Pohang, South Korea and Jingmen, China. The target output of the JV was 10ktpy of NCA cathode material by 2017, giving a total output capacity of Ecopro and GEM together of 18ktpy.

GEM, originally a battery and white goods recycling company, has integrated further downstream by producing cathode materials from both recycled lithium-ion batteries and mined battery raw materials. Today, GEM operates China’s largest automated battery dismantling facility in Shenzhen, and its cathode materials are produced mainly in Wuxi and Ningde, China.

According to GEM, it already had 50ktpy capacity for lithium-ion battery cathode materials in 2017, from which it recovered around 5ktpy cobalt. By 2019, the Chinese recycler and battery materials producer expects to build a 20ktpy lithium-ion battery materials project, and to raise funds to build an additional 60ktpy precursor materials project and a 30ktpy cathode materials project. To achieve this cathode capacity, GEM signed a 52.8kt cobalt hydroxide deal with Glencore and teamed up with CATL and steel-maker Tsingshan to invest a total of USD$700M in a project to produce 50ktpy of battery-grade nickel hydroxide intermediates in Indonesia.

GEM and Tsingshan also held a ceremony in September 2018 for a JV plant in Ningde, in China’s south-eastern Fujian province, which will produce 70ktpy of battery materials and have a long-term planned capacity of over 200ktpy.

Roskill’s NEW Lithium-ion Batteries: Market Development & Raw Materials 2018 report is due to be published in Q1 2019.
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