South Korea’s LG Chem announced it had started construction of a new factory to produce high-nickel cathode materials for electric vehicle (EV) batteries, as the group looks to strengthen its battery materials supply capabilities.

The KRW500bn (US$419bn) facility is being built on a 60,000 sq m site in Gumi, an industrial city 250km south of Seoul. It will have a production capacity of 60,000 tons of NCMA (nickel, cobalt, manganese, aluminum) cathode material by 2025, enough to produce 500,000 next generation EV battery packs.

Cathodes are key components which determine the capacity and average voltage of lithium-ion batteries. LG Chem’s NCMA cathodes contain 90% nickel, giving them a high energy density.

LG Chem had previously announced plans to triple its global cathode production capacity by 2026, to 260,000 tons a year from 80,000 tons at present. It is also focused on the development of cobalt-free batteries to help reduce its exposure to raw materials price fluctuations, as well as single crystal cathodes for solid state EV batteries.