POSCO has begun production of high-purity nickel—required for secondary batteries—at SNNC. SNNC is a JV established with SMSP, the largest nickel exporter in New Caledonia, in 2006, and was Korea’s first specialized ferronickel manufacturer engaged in producing and selling ferronickel (nickel 20%, iron 80%), the main component of stainless steel, as well as other by-products.
POSCO’s investment in SNNC—230 billion KRW (US$198 million)—is adding the capability for refining high-purity nickel, with plans to produce 20 thousand tons (only nickel contents) per year by 2023. The 20 thousand tons of materials from the factory can support 500,000 EVs, POSCO said.
POSCO plans to manufacture and sell 99.9% purity nickel materials made from 75% purity nickel mattes through its wet refining process. SNNC, which will continue to produce ferronickel, will produce nickel mattes produced via an iron removal process.
The demand for high purity nickel as one of the necessary materials for the cathode materials used in high-capacity batteries, will increase 23% yearly on average, and may lead to supply constraints after 2025, according to global market research firm WoodMac.
Last May, POSCO took a 30% stake in the Australian company Ravensthorpe, which specializes in nickel mining and refining production.
Additionally, POSCO has built a value chain that supplies lithium, nickel, and graphite for itself to produce materials for anodes and cathodes.
POSCO plans to achieve yearly sales of 23 trillion KRW (US$20 billion) and own 20% of global market share for secondary battery materials to 2030, supplying 220 thousand tons of lithium and 100 thousand tons of nickel and producing 400 thousand tons of cathode materials and 260 thousand tons of anode materials.