Lithium hydroxide is preferred over lithium carbonate because lithium hydroxide battery cathodes have more power density and a longer life cycle, but lithium hydroxide is in a much shorter supply than lithium carbonate. AMG Lithium has kicked off the construction of the first lithium hydroxide refinery in Bitterfeld-Wolfen for commercial production in the third quarter of 2023.
Lithium hydroxide produced at AMG's refinery with an annual capacity of 20,000 metric tons will be supplied to EcoPro's cathode plant in Debrecen, Hungary. "With the rapid growth of the secondary battery market and growing concerns over a shortage of raw materials, it is very meaningful that we have secured a stable supply and demand network of lithium hydroxide, a key cathode material, in Europe," EcoPro BM CEO Kim Byeong-hoon said in a statement on September 7.
EcoPro BM said it would increase the production capacity of cathode materials from 125,000 tons to 550,000 tons by 2026 at domestic and overseas plants. The company has provided high-nickel cathode materials to SK On, a major battery company in South Korea.
Battery makers have tried to produce efficient batteries, such as NCM that contains nickel, cobalt and manganese. The proportion of nickel is high so that battery producers can save costs and extend the driving range. Nickel is cheaper than cobalt, which is an expensive rare-earth element widely used in lithium-ion batteries and is vulnerable to sudden price fluctuations.
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