JFE Chemical to invest in battery material production in China

29, Aug. 2019

Akira Suzuki (front R), president of JFE Chemical Corp., shakes hands with Lin Xiuzhen (front C), chairwoman of Baowu Carbon Materials & Technology Co., and Zhang Feng (front L), chairman of Tianhe Carbon Corp., on Aug. 26 in Shanghai, China. (Photo courtesy of JFE Chemical)
Akira Suzuki (front R), president of JFE Chemical Corp., shakes hands with Lin Xiuzhen (front C), chairwoman of Baowu Carbon Materials & Technology Co., and Zhang Feng (front L), chairman of Tianhe Carbon Corp., on Aug. 26 in Shanghai, China. (Photo courtesy of JFE Chemical)

TOKYO, NNA - A wholly owned subsidiary of major Japanese steelmaker JFE Steel Corp. will team up with two Chinese companies to set up a battery material plant in China to tap into the world's largest electric vehicle market.

JFE Chemical Corp. will acquire a 40 percent stake in a joint venture, Wuhai Baojie New Energy Materials Co., to be capitalized at 260 million yuan ($36 million), with Baowu Carbon Materials & Technology Co., a subsidiary of Baoshan Iron & Steel Co., taking 51 percent, and local company Tianhe Carbon Corp. the remainder, according to a statement released Tuesday.

The joint venture will invest 500 million yuan to build a plant next to a Baowu plant in Wuhai, Inner Mongolia, utilizing its product, needle coke, to produce artificial graphite negative electrodes, a battery material with durability suitable for EVs, as well as taking advantage of the city's low cost of electricity.

Scheduled to start production in the latter half of 2020 with annual output of 10,000 tons, the plant will provide electrodes to Chinese firms supplying batteries to local automakers while seeking to ship them to foreign makers, a JFE Chemical spokesman told NNA on Wednesday.

China is the world's largest EV market with sales of nearly 1.1 million such vehicles in 2018, according to a report by the International Energy Agency. The report forecast that China will remain in the lead until at least 2030, posting 57 percent of global EV sales in one scenario. (NNA/Kyodo)