On 13 April, Fu An Qing Mei Energy Material, a subsidiary of Chinese refiner and recycler GEM, signed an MOU with South Korean battery material producer ECOPRO, to establish a new joint venture (JV) for construction of a high-nickel cathode precursor plant in Ningde city, Fujian, China. The new company will be 51% owned by Fu An Qing Mei and 49% owned by ECOPRO, with the official investment agreement between the two parties to be finalised by mid-2020. The JV will be dedicated to production of NCA and high-nickel NCM cathode precursor materials, targeting an initial capacity of 24ktpy by 2022 and 48ktpy by 2024. Fu An Qing Mei and its shareholders will supply feedstocks for the project, including MHP, nickel and cobalt sulphate crystals.
With its main production sites located in Hubei and Jiangsu in China, GEM is one of the major refiners of cobalt and nickel, as well as being a leading producer of Li-ion cathode precursor globally. In 2019, the company was estimated to be one of the top three nickel sulphate producers, together with Jinchuan Group in China and SMM in Japan. Its capacity for NCM and NCA precursors, essential materials for EV battery production, has positioned the company as the world’s top producer of this material.
This new JV, if successfully established, would become GEM’s second high-nickel NCM/NCA precursor plant in Ningde city, where battery giant CATL also operates its main gigafactories. In 2018, GEM started construction of a high-nickel NCM precursor plant in the same city, with captive nickel and cobalt chemical feedstocks; it is set to start production in late 2020.
In the medium to long term, GEM will likely source sulphates and MHP from its HPAL plant, currently under construction in Morowali, Indonensia. These investments form part of GEM’s roadmap to become a fully-integrated player in the global EV battery value chain. As a leading producer, its active expansions in battery-grade nickel and focus on nickel-rich precursor/cathode production, shows the company’s belief in high-nickel chemistries in the long term, benefiting nickel sulphate use in such applications.
Roskill’s NEW Nickel Sulphate: Outlook to 2029, 3rd Edition report is due to be published in May 2020 and includes forecast trends in supply, demand and pricing over the next decade. The report will provide detailed profiles for new potential producers and analyse the availability of various feedstock types, including recycling from different sectors. Click to download the brochure for the report, or to access further information.