LG Chem plans to invest $424 million for battery material plant in South Korea

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korean battery maker LG Chem Ltd said on Thursday it had agreed to invest 500 billion won ($424.03 million) to build a factory in South Korea to produce cathode material for lithium-ion batteries.

LG Chem plans to break ground in the city of Gumi, in southeastern South Korea, next year, the company said in a statement. Cathode production will start from late 2022, said a company official.

The company is one of the leading electric vehicle battery makers in the world and counts General Motors and Volkswagen VOWG_p.DE among its customers.

Cathodes in lithium-ion batteries are made up of lithium metal as well as a combination of other metals such as nickel, cobalt and manganese. They absorb negatively charged electrons from the anode portion of the battery that produces energy. The anode portion of lithium-ion battery is typically graphite.

LG Chem’s new factory will create about 1,000 domestic jobs in South Korea, the company added.

The company currently operates two other cathode production plants in the country and is building one in China.

LG Chem aims to boost its ability to independently produce the cathode material by up to 35%, compared to the current 20%, said LG Chem President Jeong Ho-young said in an earnings call on Wednesday.

Reporting by Heekyong Yang; editing by Christian Schmollinger