Korea-based steel-maker POSCO has begun commercial production of lithium in South Korea for the first time.
In February, POSCO completed a lithium extraction plant with an annual capacity of 2,500 tons. Speaking at the opening ceremony, Jong-joo Kim, the Director of the Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, noted that Korea, a major battery producer, currently imports all lithium carbonate for batteries. “Today’s completion of the plant will empower POSCO to produce lithium carbonate for batteries on its own, relieving secondary battery makers of worries about securing quality raw materials,” said Kim.
The PosLX Plant will supply lithium carbonate to POSCO ESM, which produces cathodes, and to battery-makers LG Chem and Samsung SDI.
POSCO has pioneered the recycling of used secondary batteries by using lithium phosphate from recycling companies as a raw material at the PosLX Plant. In January, tests of lithium carbonate produced from recycled material verified that it was equivalent to existing products in quality standards such as particle size, purity, charge and discharge efficiency and capacity.
POSCO has developed a proprietary lithium extraction technology that it says is much faster than conventional extraction methods – it requires less than one month instead of the usual 12 to 18 months. It’s also more efficient – the recovery rate of lithium has been increased from 30-40% to more than 80%. Lithium can be delivered at a purity of 99.9% or more.
POSCO plans to increase its annual production capacity to 40,000 tons of lithium worldwide.
Source: POSCO via Green Car Congress