South Korean President Moon Jae-in visited Pohang on Jan. 9 to celebrate the investment agreement of the city, North Gyeongsang Province and GS Engineering & Construction for building battery recycling facilities.
According to the agreement, GS Engineering & Construction is going to invest 100 billion won in battery recycling for three years to come. Of the total, 18 billion won will be spent for the purchase of 119,008 square meter land in and around the Yeongil Bay Industrial Complex in Pohang, 30 billion won for the construction of the facilities, and the rest for machinery installation. The operation of the facilities is scheduled to start in October 2022.
Battery recycling is a highly promising industry closely related to electric vehicles (EVs). In South Korea, the number of registered EVs jumped from 2,946 in 2014 to 83,047 in October last year. The number is estimated to reach 440,000 in 2022.
South Korean companies had a hard time expanding their battery recycling business because the Clean Air Conservation Act and the Green Industry Act provide insufficient stipulations regarding the reuse and recycling of used electric vehicle batteries. In July last year, however, the South Korean government designated Pohang as a special deregulation zone where battery recycling projects can be launched without legal restrictions. GS Engineering & Construction has become the first large South Korean corporation to make an investment in the zone.
The construction company is planning to work with smaller firms in the zone. For example, those firms such as Ecopro GEM will carry out used battery collection and disassembly and mineral pulverization so that the construction company can classify and refine mineral materials supplied by those firms. The materials can be sold back to battery manufacturers such as Samsung SDI and LG Chem.