The precursors are used for the production of lithium ion (Li-ion) cathode materials. NMC precursors contain nickel, cobalt and manganese elements, and constitute together with lithium compounds, the starting materials for the production of cathodes for NMC-based lithium-ion batteries.

Umicore's new plant is expected to be commissioned at the end of 2013, ramping up production in 2014. Once fully operational, this plant will effectively double Umicore’s existing production capacity for NMC precursors. The investment is supported by the Korean Ministry of Knowledge and Economy and the local authorities of the Choongchungnam province and Chunahan city, which provided a cash grant.

NMC-based Li-ion batteries are used in a large portion of today’s portable electronic equipment and are the main battery technology for the new generation of hybrid and full electric vehicles.

Umicore is one of the leading suppliers of cathode materials for Li-ion batteries in all applications. According to the company, the new investment will help support its continuous expansion and will complement existing precursor capacity in Jiangmen, China.

 “The new precursor plant will further support our leading position in cathodes for lithium-ion batteries,” said Klaus Ostgathe, Umicore’s senior vice-president for the rechargeable battery materials business unit.