Umicore to invest €160m to expand capacity of NMC cathode materials


Belgian materials technology firm Umicore is planning to expand its production capacity for nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) cathode materials in China and South Korea.

The expansion will involve an investment of €160m over a period of three years at the company's existing facilities at Cheonan, South Korea; and Jiangmen, China, as well as new investments on land adjacent to the facilities in both locations.

According to the company, the capacity expansion is required to meet a surge in demand for materials used in hybrid and electric vehicles.

As part of the expansion, the company will deploy its latest generation of production technologies, which will enable it to triple existing capacity by the end of 2018 across a broad range of material grades.

"The capacity expansion is required to meet a surge in demand for materials used in hybrid and electric vehicles."

The new capacity should start coming on stream in the second part of next year.

Umicore CEO Marc Grynberg said: "We are excited by the acceleration of demand and, thanks to the hard work of our teams in the past several years, we are well prepared to add significant capacity fast in support of our customers' growth.

"Umicore has a unique position in cathode materials and these investments underscore our ambition to be a global leader in materials that enable clean mobility. We are proud to be playing this role in sustainable transportation."

It is reported that vehicle electrification is being driven by the need to reduce CO2 emissions and improve air-quality.

The company's NMC cathode materials are key ingredients in allowing the improvements required for battery technology to increase driving range and reduce the total cost of electrified vehicle ownership.