The South Korean manufacturer of graphite-based anode materials for lithium-ion batteries, POSCO Chemicals, has announced a capacity increase of 20ktpy when the first stage of its new manufacturing plant comes on-line in November 2019. The opening will follow a year of construction at the site in the city of Sejong. The plant will be the company’s second, with first stage capacity at the new plant bringing POSCO’s total up to 44ktpy. Capacity at the second plant could be increased to 50ktpy by 2022, bringing total capacity up to 74ktpy.
All major anode manufacturers are expanding capacity aggressively in a race to increase their control of the market and prices. After a surge in capacity expansions, anode materials are facing higher production levels but prices are expected to be kept low by weakened demand—a reaction to declining government subsidies. Meanwhile, the anode sector undergoes continued consolidation with increasing competition between the major players.
POSCO accounted for around 5% of global lithium-ion battery anode material production in 2018 and is looking to increase its market share in a sector dominated by producers in China and Japan. For many years, Japan was the centre of global anode material production led by Hitachi but, in recent years, China’s low labour costs, high raw material availability and the location of a large and growing battery market has shifted the focus to Chinese players. China now accounts for more than three quarters of anode material production with four of the five largest producers located in China, including market leaders BTR New Energy Materials and Shanshan Technology.
POSCO’s anode materials based on graphite are an adjunct to a larger graphite business, largely concerning graphite-containing products such as refractories for supply to its major steel business. POSCO is keen to be a full-range supplier to the automotive industry, a key market for steel. The company has developed natural graphite-based anode materials for use in the high-capacity batteries for EVs.
More information on the market trends of lithium-ion batteries and battery raw materials can be found in Roskill’s 3rd Edition of the Lithium-ion Batteries: Outlook to 2028 report published in April 2019, or in Roskill’s range of reports covering the graphite, lithium, cobalt and nickel markets.
Join our analysts to discuss development of the lithium-ion battery market and key trends across the battery materials supply chains at the next ‘Roskill on the road…’ event, which will take place at The Tower of London on 29th October 2019.