L&F Corporation and LS Group, two South Korean industrial groups, have signed an agreement with government departments to build a battery precursor joint venture plant in the Saemangeum industrial complex in Gunsan, in the south west of the country.

KRW1.84trn (US$1.4bn) would be invested in the plant with production capacity of 120,000 tons of materials per year when complete in 2025. Once investment agreements with regional authorities are finalised, construction will start as scheduled later this year.

L&F, a producer of cathode materials for lithium-ion batteries based in Daegu, would invest KRW1trn in the factory and take a 55% stake. LS Group, a local cheabol [business conglomerate] operating in energy and electrical/industrial materials, wouold invest KRW840bn for 45%.

South Korean president Yoon Suk Yeol said secondary batteries were one of the country’s core strategic industries along with semiconductors, adding the new plant would help provide a stable supply of key battery materials. Precursors were said to account for up to 70% of the cost of battery cathodes.

Saemangeum is a key location for battery materials the production plus complete battery cells with 30 companies having announced investments of KRW6.6trn in little over a year, including LG Chem and SK On.

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