LG Chem Ltd this week began construction of a US$1.4bn battery cathode plant in Clarksville, in the US state of Tennessee, as the South Korean company looks to play a major role in the region’s battery electric vehicle (BEV) supply chain.

The facility will have an annual production capacity of 60,000 tons of nickel, cobalt, manganese, aluminium (NCMA) battery cathodes per year, enough for 600,000 high-performance BEVs. The company claims it will be the largest cathode materials plant in the country when it is completed in 2026.

LG Chem said it the plant by will use advanced calcination technologies that will allow it to operate “the world’s highest-level annual production capacity of 10,000 tons per line”, while the entire production processes will be fully automated with a quality analysis and control system also in place.

The plant will procure minerals and precursors from nations that have free trade agreements (FTAs) with the US, including from South Korean-based suppliers, allowing its customers to qualify for tax credits under the US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

The plant will initially supply “customised” cathodes to General Motors and Toyota, after multi-year supply contracts were signed early this year, followed by other US-based automakers later on.

The ground-breaking ceremony was attended by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, the South Korean Ambassador to the US Cho Hyun-dong, Clarksville City Mayor Joe Pitts, LG Chem’s CEO Shin Hak-cheol and the head of the company’s Battery Materials Business Unit Lee Hyang-mok.

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By GlobalData

Shin Hak-cheol said at the event “with the Tennessee plant LG Chem will become the top cathode material supplier in North America. LG Chem will execute the vision to become the world’s leading comprehensive battery material company, establishing a stable supply chain resilient to any environment”.

Bill Lee said “Tennessee’s pro-business environment and skilled workforce provide global companies with the tools they need to succeed. I congratulate LG Chem on today’s significant milestone and thank the company for its investment in Tennessee”.