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S. Korean-led consortium to build lithium factory in Saemangeum

2017/11/09 16:57

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SEJONG, Nov. 9 (Yonhap) -- A South Korean-led consortium will build a lithium production line in Saemanguem industrial complex on the western coast that will start production in 2020, a provincial development authority said Thursday.

A joint venture of three companies -- South Korean battery maker LG Chem, local ore carrier Polaris Shipping Co. and Australian miner Pilbara Minerals Ltd., -- will foot the investment bill of 345 billion won (US$309.2 million), the Saemangeum Development and Investment Agency said after signing a memorandum of understanding.

Work on the plant for the new venture, Lithium Korea, will begin in April 2018, with a goal of producing 30,000 tons of lithium annually starting in January 2020. That is enough to supply lithium for 50,000 electric vehicles, the agency said.

Polaris Shipping will deliver spodumene concentrate, a key ingredient for lithium production, from Pilabara Minerals' facility to nearby Gunsan port. The production line is also close to LG Chem's factories in the area, the agency said.

"It is important to secure raw materials to produce lithium," the Saemangeum agency said in a release. "The factory will be able to produce lithium stably, as a raw material supplier is joining the project."

   South Korea imported 25,000 tons of lithium last year. Burdens on lithium battery makers have been rising as the price of lithium has skyrocketed 186.9 percent over the past two years.

The Saemangeum area in North Jeolla Province spans 40,200 hectares and is home to the world's longest seawall at 33.9 kilometers. The seawall construction was completed in 2010 to attract businesses in a variety of fields, including agriculture and renewable energy.