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POSCO signs long-term deal to buy lithium from Pilbara 

POSCO signs long-term deal to buy lithium from Pilbara 

Posted February. 28, 2018 08:16,   

Updated February. 28, 2018 08:16


South Korea’s biggest steelmaker POSCO has acquired shares of an Australia-based lithium and tantalum producer and signed a long-term business agreement. POSCO’s lithium business is anticipated to hit its stride as it will be able to secure a stable source of raw material.

POSCO will buy a 4.75 percent share (79.6 million Australian dollars or about 67 billion won) and convertible bonds of Australia's Pilbara Minerals, the South Korean steelmaker said Tuesday. POSCO Australia will acquire the shares of Pilbara Minerals as POSCO signed a long-term business agreement to purchase 240,000 metric tons of lithium spodumene concentrate annually from the lithium producer. POSCO Chairman Kwon Oh-joon has been leading the cooperative business between the two companies by inspecting the lithium and tantalum site of Pilbara last November.

By 2020, POSCO plans to build a lithium factory that extracts lithium hydroxide and lithium carbonate, which are materials for secondary cell battery, from lithium spodumene concentrate in Korea. Pilbara, which owns 100 percent of the Pilgangoora lithium mine in western Australia, will be investing 30 percent of its shares to the lithium factory.

“Under the latest agreement, POSCO has laid out the basis for annual production of about 30,000 tons of lithium hydroxide and lithium carbonate with Pilbara, which supplies materials, from 2020,” said POSCO.

Since 2010, POSCO has been in the vanguard of developing technology independently to extract lithium directly by pushing forward a secondary cell battery business as future new growth industry. Last year, POSCO succeeded in producing 240 tons of lithium carbonate from secondary cell battery waste.

Hyoun-Soo Kim kimhs@donga.com