China's CNGR to build NCM precursor facility in Finland

Major Chinese lithium cathode material (CAM) precursor producer CNGR Advanced Material will partner with Finland's state-owned Finnish Minerals Group (FMG) to build a CAM precursor production plant in Finland, to meet robust demand from the European electric vehicle (EV) industry.

Zoomwe Hong Kong New Energy Technology, a wholly-owned subsidiary of CNGR Advanced Material, signed a shareholder agreement this week with Finnish Battery Chemicals (FBC), a wholly-owned subsidiary of FMG, to establish a joint venture named Project 1 Oy. Zoomwe Hong Kong will hold a 60pc stake in the joint venture and FBC will hold 40pc.

The joint venture will construct a facility for lithium nickel-cobalt-manganese oxide (NCM) precursor with high nickel content, with a capacity of no more than 120,000 t/yr. The first phase of 20,000 t/yr is scheduled to start production in 2024, with an investment of €200mn ($225.6mn).

Europe is the world's second largest power battery market, with demand expected to exceed 900GWh in 2030, according to research institute Roland Berger of Germany, quoted by CNGR.

"Building a NCM precursor facility in Finland is conducive to [deepening] our ties to European [original equipment manufacturers] and battery producers," CNGR said.

CNGR is the world's largest lithium-ion battery cathode precursor manufacturer, followed by Chinese firm GEM with a capacity target of 200,000 t/yr by the end of this year. CNGR's downstream buyers include Chinese lithium cathode material manufacturers XTC New Energy Materials (Xiamen Tungsten), Beijing Easpring, Ningbo Rongbay, BTR, Reshine and Zhenhua, Germany's BASF, CATL, South Korean battery producers LG Chem, Samsung SDI and SKI and US EV producer Tesla.

CNGR sold 68,000t of NCM precursors in the first half of this year, up by 152pc from a year ago, with its cobalt tetroxide sales increasing by 64pc over the same period to 11,500t. It has a tetroxide capacity of 25,000 t/yr.

CNGR and China's major CAM producer Beijing Easpring signed an agreement on 1 December to deepen their partnership in battery material projects, including a laterite nickel ore mining facility in Indonesia, a lithium iron phosphate (LFP) investment in China, layout of production capacities in Europe and developments of CAM and precursor products.

FMG, which is wholly-owned by the Finnish government, is mainly engaged in Finnish state-owned mining-related equity investments and management, and mining and battery industry technology development. The firm is committed to the development of Finland's lithium-ion battery industry chain. FMG's subsidiary Terrafame Oy is a diversified metal mining and nickel sulfate producer. FBC aims to invest in the ternary precursor and CAM industry for lithium batteries in Finland.

FMG is also on track to build its European CAM joint facility with Easpring.