POSCO Chemical, part of the South Korea’s steel and chemicals giant POSCO Holdings, has broken ground for a new artificial graphite plant as the company continued to expand aggressively in the global electric vehicle (EV) supply chain.

The new plant, located in the Pohang Blue Valley National Industrial Complex, will have initial capacity for 10,000 tons of graphite when operational in the second half of 2024. The company completed construction of its first such plant at the end of 2021 in the same industrial complex in Pohang, with capacity of 8,000 tons.

Graphite is a key anode material which helps shorten charging times and extend life expectancy of EV batteries. Chinese producers currently dominate graphite supply to the EV industry.

Posco Chemical said the combined 18,000 ton capacity of the two plants would be enough for 60 kilowatt-hour (kWh) of batteries per year, or 470,000 EV battery packs.

The company had been actively expanding in recent years into the EV battery supply chain. Last year, it signed a five year deal worth KRW939bn (US$770m) to supply artificial graphite from 2023 to Ultium Cells, a US based joint venture between local battery manufacturer LG Energy Solution and General Motors.

Last month the company signed a 10 year agreement to supply nickel cobalt aluminium (NCMA) cathode materials worth KRW40trn (US$32.8bn) to local battery maker Samsung SDI by 2032.