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Battery boom: Korea’s LG Chem to build $3.2bn cathode plant in Tennessee

LG Chem chief executive Shin Hak-Cheol speaking at the signing ceremony (LG Chem)
South Korea’s largest chemical company, LG Chem, plans to build a $3.2bn factory in the US state of Tennessee to make cathodes for electric vehicle (EV) batteries.

It signed a memorandum of understanding with Tennessee governor Bill Lee to build the plant in the city of Clarksville.

If the plan goes ahead the factory would make its first cathode materials in 2025 and, when it is fully complete in 2027, the aim is to produce 120,000 tonnes of cathodes a year, enough to power 1.2 million EVs.

“LG Chem’s decision to invest in Clarksville is a testament to Tennessee’s unmatched business climate, skilled workforce and position as a leader in the automotive industry,” Governor Lee said.

“I thank this company for creating more than 850 jobs to provide opportunity to Tennesseans across Montgomery County.”

LG Chem’s rendering of its planned factory

Shin Hak-Cheol, LG CHem’s chief executive, said the plant would bring his company “one step closer to becoming the world’s best battery materials manufacturer and fulfilling our corporate vision to become a top global science company”.

The company has developed NMCA cathodes – based on nickel, cobalt, manganese and aluminium – which LG Chem says gives EV batteries superior capacity and stability.

The factory, part of a world-wide surge in investment in the EV supply chain, will use fully automated production processes and operate entirely on solar and hydroelectric energy. 

LG Chem has secured a 170ha site for the plant, and plans to break ground in the first quarter of next year. It aims to boost revenue from battery materials from $3.7bn to $14.8bn over the next five years.

The company said it chose the Tennessee location owing to its proximity to customers, ease of transporting raw materials and the active cooperation of the state and local governments.

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