French, Chinese firms team up to build €1.5bn Dunkirk battery complex

Dunkirk battery complex
Huang Changgeng and Philippe Knoche sign the agreement (Orano/Cyril Crespeau)

Chinese battery maker XTC New Energy Materials has announced plans to work with French nuclear services company Orano on the construction of three factories and a research centre worth a total of €1.5bn.

In the first phase they will build two factories on an industrial site in Dunkirk, in the Hauts-de-France region.

One, majority-owned by XTC, will make “cathode active materials”, or metal oxides for use in batteries. The second, majority-owned by Orano, will use metals such as cobalt, nickel, manganese, and lithium to make precursors for the first plant.

Orano and XTC New Energy will also jointly invest in the construction of an R&D centre to design products for the French and European automotive industry.

Before 2026, Orano also plans to set up a recycling plant near the factories to make the EV industry more circular, and to increase French autonomy in strategic materials such as lithium.

‘A new industrial sector in France’

Philippe Knoche, chief executive of Orano, said in a statement: “We are proud of these agreements, which see Orano and XTC New Energy combine their strengths and know-how to contribute to the development of a new industrial sector in France.”

Speaking for XTC, Chairman Huang Changgeng added that the agreement reflected the companies’ desire to combine their complementary skills to “contribute to the development of less polluting electric mobility in Europe and France, in keeping with our shared goals for decarbonising energy”.

In the past few years, Dunkirk has emerged as the centre of the burgeoning French EV supply market. Earlier this month, battery start-up Verkor secured €2bn to fund a battery factory, and in August Taiwanese battery maker ProLogium secured a state subsidy of €1.5bn to build a €5.2bn factory near the town.

See further reading for GCR’s reports on both those stories.

Further reading

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