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South Korea’s Ecopro to Construct European Plant for Cathode Material Production in Hungary

Ecopro, the battery material company, has announced plans to construct a new plant in Hungary for producing cathode materials, marking its first foray into overseas operations. The company has committed $755.4 million towards the facility in Debrenze, where a groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for April 19th.

Similar to Ecopro’s Pohang Campus in Korea, the Hungary plant will create a circular economy for recycling waste batteries and producing cathode materials. The various divisions responsible for different aspects of the process include Ecopro Materials for precursors, Ecopro BM for cathode materials, Ecopro AP for gas, and Ecopro Innovation for lithium. Ecopro CNG will handle waste battery recycling.

Ecopro has commenced foundation work at the Debrenze site, with Ecopro AP personnel overseeing infrastructure development for gas and chemical supply. The company aims to expand its cathode material production capacity to 710,000 tonnes by 2027, generating sales of up to $23.4 billion.

The Hungary plant is expected to recycle waste batteries to produce cathode materials locally, supplying them to battery cell makers. In this vein, Ecopro recently signed an MOU with SK Eco Plant TES for cooperation in battery recycling in Europe, specifically for recycling waste batteries generated at SK On battery factories operating in Hungary.

Ecopro’s Hungary plant is scheduled for mass production in Q1 2025, with the US joint venture between SK on and Ford set to follow in H2 2025. The company has earmarked $1.1 billion for facility investment this year, twice the amount invested in 2022, primarily for the construction of new factories.

Ecopro also plans to list Ecopro Materials, responsible for the battery precursor business, in H2 2023, pending regulatory approval from the Korea Exchange. However, the IPO schedule could be delayed by allegations of unfair trade made against former and current executives and employees.

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