LGES to import Australian feedstock of lithium hydroxide for battery cathode materials

Lim Chang-won Reporter() | Posted : January 12, 2022, 13:21 | Updated : January 12, 2022, 13:21

[Courtesy of LG Energy Solution]

SEOUL -- LG Energy Solution, the battery-making wing of South Korea's LG Group, will import the feedstock of lithium hydroxide, which is used for lithium-ion battery cathode materials, for five years from 2024 under a contract with Liontown Resources, a battery metals exploration and development company in Australia.

Liontown with lithium assets at Kathleen Valley and Buldania in Western Australia has signed an offtake agreement with LG Energy Solution (LGES) for the supply of up to 150,000 dry metric tonnes (DMT) per annum of spodumene concentrate produced at Kathleen Valley. Lithium is extracted from mineral ores, which mainly consist of spodumene. The advantage of spodumene as a lithium source is its high lithium concentration.

It is the first offtake arrangement for Kathleen Valley and represents LGES' first binding commitment to acquire Australian-sourced spodumene concentrate, Liontown said in a statement published on its website on January 12, adding that initial production is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2024. The supply term may be extended for five years.

The deal with Liontown would help LGES secure a stable supply of lithium hydroxide. Trade data showed that South Korea has been heavily dependent on Chinese lithium hydroxide, which is preferred over lithium carbonate as a precursor for lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxides.

A day earlier, LG Chem broke ground for South Korea's largest cathode material plant capable of producing some 60,000 tons a year. The plant will be completed in September 2024 with an injection of 475 billion won ($397 million) to produce a new type of efficient battery with a longer life than conventional ones.

LG Chem aims to boost its cathode material production capacity from 80,000 tons to 260,000 tons in 2026 while trying to develop cobalt-free technology and single crystal cathode materials for all-solid-state batteries which are seen as a next-generation power source for electric vehicles as solid electrolytes are nonflammable and more stable.
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