LG Chem announced a 10 trillion KRW ($8.7 billion) investment in three engines of growth - eco-friendly materials, battery materials, and innovative new drugs. About 60% of the spending will fall on South Korea, while the remaining 40% is for abroad.
A comprehensive approach to battery materials, mostly for the automotive industry, is the largest part with a 6 trillion KRW ($5.3 billion) investment.
LG Chem's goal is to be the world’s largest comprehensive battery materials company having all core battery materials such as separation membranes, cathode binders, and becoming no. 1 in the world for anodes.
Let's note that the investments in the battery materials are separate from the investment in batteries and battery manufacturing capacity.
LG Chem announced that by 2026 it will increase the production capacity of anode materials 7-fold compared to the 2020 level, from 40,000 tons annually to 260,000 tons by 2026.
To achieve the goal, the company will build a new plant (Gumi Plant) with a 60,000-ton capacity, and launch a new joint venture with a mining company (Korea Zinc).
"Plans are to commence construction of the Gumi Plant with a 60,000-ton capacity in December for the anode material business with the goal of fostering the company into a global leader. Through this, the anode production capacity of LG Chem will increase by roughly seven-fold from 40,000 tons in 2020 to 260,000 tons by 2026.
A JV is being prepared with a mining company for the stable supply of metals that will be used as the raw materials for anode materials. LG Chem will actively pursue cooperation in various ways with companies possessing mining, smelting and refining technologies to strengthen its metal sourcing competitiveness."
The company is currently reviewing its M&A and JV options for the separation membrane business with a plan to build a global production base as soon as possible.
"For products such as anode materials, cathode binders, and radiant adhesives, LG Chem plans to preemptively focus R&D resources to differentiate its technologies and acquire market leadership. This is because in the battery materials market that is expected to grow quickly from 39 trillion KRW in 2021 to 100 trillion KRW by 2026, it is anticipated that demands for material innovation will strengthen for the sake of improving performance and cutting costs.
*Binder: Fixes active materials on copper laminates when charging and discharging are repeated
*Radiant adhesive: Material that connects EV battery modules to emit heat generated in the battery cell to the outside, while also fixing the battery cell against external impact and vibration"
Another area of expansion is CNT (Carbon Nanotube). The petrochemical arm of the company will increase production three times by 2025, from 1,700 tons annually in 2021 to over 5,100 tons.