South Korea’s POSCO has pulled out of a project to build battery parts in Chile, the Asian steelmaker said, little more than a year after winning guaranteed access to cheap lithium from top producer Albemarle.
POSCO, together with partner Samsung SDI, won a 2018 Chilean government tender to build a battery-parts factory in the country’s northern desert in exchange for a 27-year supply of low-cost lithium.
The problem, POSCO told Reuters, is that the project it proposed requires lithium hydroxide, a type of the metal increasingly favored by EV battery makers but one not produced by Albemarle in Chile.
Albemarle in Chile produces primarily lithium carbonate, a variety of the metal that is widely used in smaller consumer electronics.
Samsung, the world’s largest maker of smartphones, told Reuters that it is still reviewing the project following Posco’s announcement.
POSCO’s decision is yet another in a string of setbacks for Chile, which has struggled to modernize its lithium policies, boost output and develop a domestic battery industry, despite having the world’s largest supplies of the metal and rising global EV demand.
Albemarle and the Chilean government in 2016 signed an agreement that allows Albemarle to more than triple its output of lithium. But the deal requires the company reserve as much as 25 percent of its production for companies seeking to build batteries or their parts in Chile. The agreement does not specify whether Albemarle should produce lithium carbonate or lithium hydroxide at its facilities.
Albemarle and Corfo, which leases the company its mining rights in Chile, initially disagreed on how to price the lithium it would provide to the battery makers, but have since come to agreement. Neither has offered details of the settlement.
Albemarle did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Posco’s decision.
China’s Sichuan Fulin Transportation Group Co and Chile’s privately held Molymet also won access to the discounted lithium in last year’s tender.
Fulin and Molymet did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Following last year’s tender, Chile’s government said the price tag for the three projects was $754 million. At least 664 jobs would be created.
The deals were widely seen as a foot in the door into Chile as countries and global corporations scramble to lock down supplies of key metals used in batteries that power cell phones, tablets and electric vehicles.
POSCO last summer said it would build a lithium plant in Argentina to help secure its own supply. That announcement came as POSCO also said it would buy lithium mining rights in Argentina from Galaxy Resource Ltd’s in a deal worth $280 million.
By Dave Sherwood and Jane Chung
Eastman is investing up to US$1 billion in building what it says is the world’s largest molecular plastics recycling facility in France. The new facility would use Eastman’s polyester renewal technology to recycle up to 160,000 metric tons of hard-to-recycle plastic waste annually – enough plastic waste to fill Stade de France national football stadium 2.5 times.
Korean battery maker LG Energy Solution has opened the books to investors to raise up to $10.8 billion in the country’s largest initial public offering (IPO), according to a term sheet seen by Reuters. The shares will be sold in a price range of 257,000 won to 300,000 won ($216.19-$252.36) apiece to raise between $9.2 billion and $10.8 billion, the term sheet showed.
The SHYNE (Spanish Hydrogen Network) project is the largest multisectoral consortium in Spain, created to promote the decarbonization of the economy through renewable hydrogen. SHYNE will have a total investment of €3.23 billion euros that will serve to develop more competitive technologies and evolve both the Spanish industry and its infrastructure towards decarbonization, generating more than 13,000 jobs.