POSCO announced on April 2 that it built the first lithium hydroxide production line in South Korea in its PosLX Plant located in Gwangyang and the line will be put into operation this month.
Lithium hydroxide and lithium carbonate are two of the essential materials for lithium ion secondary batteries, which are mainly used in electric vehicles. The PosLX is a technique for direct lithium extraction developed by POSCO. The new production line, which has an annual production capacity of 1,500 tons, produces lithium hydroxide from lithium phosphate collected from waste secondary batteries.
According to POSCO, the PosLX technique is characterized by producing no solid waste while recovering more than 80% of lithium and its impurity content is about one-third of those of existing techniques used for the same purpose. POSCO is planning to sell lithium hydroxide to South Korean battery manufacturers such as LG Chem and Samsung SDI.
In the meantime, POSCO has produced lithium carbonate for use in laptop and mobile phone batteries at the same plant since February last year. The company’s current lithium carbonate production capacity is 1,000 tons a year.
The company is going to install more equipment within this year in order to produce lithium hydroxide and lithium carbonate from lithium ore as well as waste secondary batteries. In addition, it is planning to keep buying salt lakes as a raw material so that each of salt water, waste secondary batteries and lithium ore can be used in its facility. According to the company, the global lithium demand is estimated to increase from 250,000 tons to 710,000 tons from 2017 to 2025 and the global lithium hydroxide demand is likely to soar based on electric vehicle market expansion.