POSCO Holdings has started construction of a lithium commercialization plant in Argentina, the company said on March 31. POSCO Group is the first to produce lithium hydroxide for batteries in Argentina throughout the entire process from the acquisition of mining rights to exploration, construction and operation of a production plant.
POSCO Group CEO Choi Jeong-woo attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the brine lithium plant based on the Hombre Muerto Salt Lake, located in the 4,000-meter-high Salta Province in Argentina, which was held on March 23, along with Yoo Byeong-og, head of the Green Materials & Energy Business Team of POSCO Holdings, Kim Kwang-bok, president of POSCO Argentina, Gustavo Saenz, governor of Salta, Raul Jalil, governor of Catamarca, and Jang Myung-soo, South Korean ambassador to Argentina.
CEO Choi’s participation in the groundbreaking ceremony is his first global move since the launch of the holding company of POSCO Group on March 2 and the first on-site visit for the lithium business, one of POSCO Group’s seven major core businesses.
Construction of the brine lithium plant, which began on the same day, is to be completed in the first half of 2024, with annual production of 25,000 tons of lithium hydroxide.
The total investment cost is about 830 million dollars (about 0.95 trillion won) including infrastructure investment and operating funds. Operation of the lithium plant and financing will be 100% carried out by POSCO Argentina, a subsidiary of POSCO Holdings.
POSCO Group plans to increase mass production to 50,000 tons from the end of 2024 with an additional investment in annual production of 25,000 tons in the second phase of the lithium project, which will begin construction on the same day. Production is expected to be increased by stages to a maximum of 100,000 tons by 2028.
CEO Choi said in a commemorative speech, “Today is a very historic day for Argentina, Korea and POSCO Group, because the lithium business that POSCO Group has been preparing for several years at last takes its great first step today. This brine lithium project will become the foundation of the secondary battery material business of POSCO Group.”