POSCO Chemical Co., a subsidiary of Group, is planning to invest more than 300 billion won (US$262.58 million) to strengthen its cathode material business. Industry watchers say that the company will invest up to 1 trillion won (US$875.27 million) in this business to diversify its business portfolio beyond steel.
POSCO Chemical is planning to build a needle cokes production plant next year, according to POSCO and related industry sources on April 23. The proposed plant will start mass production in 2022. The company will spend 300 billion won (US$262.58 million) on construction of the plant alone, with the amount of investment likely to increase further considering spending on facilities and workforce.
Needle cokes are used as a primary material for cathodes and electrodes. PMC Tech Co., a subsidiary of POSCO Chemical, produces needle cokes and needle cokes, which are currently used as a primary material for electrodes.
Currently, PMC Tech exports the entire productions of needle cokes to Chinese electrode firms. Electrodes are consumables and a fuel for electric furnaces. Domestic electric furnace companies operate their furnaces by importing Chinese electrodes.
POSCO Chemical will produce needle cokes in the future along with PMC Tech. POSCO is making bold investments in needle cokes production to bolster its cathode material business. The group will export needle cokes produced by PMC Tech to electrode firms and use needle cokes to be produced by POSCO Chemical in the future in cathode materials.
POSCO Chemical manufactures cathodes, a raw material for secondary batteries, only with natural graphite. It is possible to produce cathode materials with synthetic graphite but it requires a top-level technology. Synthetic graphite is more expensive than natural graphite and has less initial capacity but it has a more stable crystal structure which leads to a longer life span of electric charge and discharge. This is why it is regarded as the material for car batteries.
POSCO Chemical announced its plans to raise its global market share in the secondary battery material industry to 20 percent and achieve over 17 trillion won (US$14.88 billion) in annual sales by 2030.