Korea Precursor was scheduled within weeks to begin commercial production of precursor materials for electric vehicle (EV) batteries at a newly built plant in South Korea, helping to reduce the industry’s dependence on Chinese supply chains.

The joint venture was established in 2022 between LG Chem and Korea Energy Materials (KEMCO), a subsidiary of Korea Zinc. The facility in Ulsan was completed last March, a month ahead of schedule, and since successfully completed test production.

The JV partners invested KRW200bn (US$146m) in the plant which has capacity for 20,000 tons of materials per year.

Precursors account for most of the cost of battery cathodes and are typically a blend of nickel, cobalt and manganese combined with lithium.

The facility’s main customer would be LG Chem’s battery manufacturing subsidiary LG Energy Solution, including its Ultium Cells joint venture with General Motors in the US, as the Korean plant’s output was expected to qualify for tax reductions under the US Inflation Reduction Act.

Last year, LG Chem signed a long term supply deal with Ultium Cells for 500,000 tons of cathode materials from its Tennessee plant between 2026 and 2035.

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A Korea Precursor official said confirmed the plant had “successfully completed competitive precursor test manufacturing”, adding the company would “start mass production as soon as it obtains the relevant certification”.