LG Chem, Huayou to build LFP cathode plant in Morocco

LG Chem, Huayou to build LFP cathode plant in Morocco

South Korea’s LG Chem Ltd. said on Sunday it will build a lithium phosphate iron (LFP) cathode materials plant in Morocco in partnership with China’s Huayou Group unit Youshan, said Kedglobal.

The materials will be subsidized by the US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) as the North African country is a free trade partner of the US, LG Chem added.

The plant is aimed at mass production from 2026 with an annual capacity of 50,000 metric tons. That is enough to be installed in 500,000 entry-class EVs, which come with a 50-kilowatt-per-hour capacity and a 350-kilometer range, LG Chem stated.

The materials from Morocco, which sits on the world’s largest reserve of phosphate rocks, will be supplied to North America. The cathodes will be used for LFP batteries of LG Energy Solution Ltd.'s Arizona-based plant that will begin operations in 2026, industry sources said.

The two affiliates of LG Group are aiming to rapidly increase their share in the global LFP battery market, currently dominated by China. LFP batteries are gaining popularity as they are cheaper than nickel-cobalt-manganese (NCM) batteries and have a low fire hazard, thus often used for affordable EVs.

In July, the firm started a process to sell off its core naphtha cracking center (NCC) in Korea, estimated at about 3 trillion won ($2.2 billion). In August, the company decided to look for potential buyers for its domestic film factories.


Korea’s SKC to invest up to $70 mln in US smart glass firm Halio

Korea’s SKC to invest up to $70 mln in US smart glass firm Halio

SKC Ltd., a South Korean chemicals maker, is set to invest as much as USD70 million in Halio Inc., a US smart glass technology company, to expand the energy-saving solution business, said Kedglobal.

SKC said its board of directors on Tuesday decided on the investment plan with aims to foster the energy-saving solution based on smart windows as one of the company’s core eco-friendly businesses along with biodegradable materials, which reduce plastic waste.

“The investment, in addition to the technology we have developed so far, is expected to allow us to further advance our smart window business,” said an official of SKC, a unit of S
outh Korea’s second-largest conglomerate SK Group.

Smart glass controls the reflective properties of glasses with electrochromics to control the amount of light and heat passing through building windows. The color of glass darkens in hot weather to improve the cooling efficiency of buildings, while it becomes transparent in cold weather to enhance heating efficiency. Its appearance is similar to ordinary glass, but it made with technology using similar materials to that in battery production.

We remind, Russian government has approved some changes to its fuel export ban, lifting the restrictions for fuel used as bunkering for some vessels as well as diesel with high content of sulfur. It also lifted restrictions on the export of fuel already accepted for export by the Russian Railways and Transneft before the initial ban had been announced last week. The ban on all types of gasoline and high-quality diesel remains in place.


LG Chem to sell polarizer businesses to Chinese peers for USD800 mn

LG Chem to sell polarizer businesses to Chinese peers for USD800 mn

LG Chem Ltd., the parent of South Korea’s No. 1 battery maker LG Energy Solution Ltd., will unload its polarizer businesses to two Chinese players for a combined USD800 million as part of its business reorganization to focus on its new growth engines, battery materials, green materials and life sciences, said Kedglobal.

The company announced in a regulatory filing on Wednesday that its board of directors approved a plan to sell off its polarizer business to Suzhou-based Shanjin Optoelectronics for $200 million and the polarizer materials business to another Chinese company Hefei Xinmei Materials Technology Co. for 4.5 billion yuan (USD616 million).

A month ago, The Korea Economic Daily reported exclusively on LG Chem’s move to seek a new owner for its display film business to exit from the IT materials business amid the rapid ascent of Chinese players.

Many Chinese petrochemical peers have recently jumped into the IT film market, intensifying competition and deteriorating profitability.

The latest decision is also part of LG Chem’s broad business shakeup plan to bolster its new growth drivers -- battery materials, eco-friendly materials and life sciences for innovative medicine development, the company said in the filing.

We remind, LG Chem announced on 24 Sep 2023 that it will make inroads into the lithium-phosphate-iron (LFP) cathode materials business in partnership with China's Huayou Group. In addition, LG Chem will start vertical integration of its cathode supply chain. LG Chem and Huayou Group signed a comprehensive memorandum of understanding (MOU) on 22 Sep 2023, to jointly enter the LFP cathode material market and strengthen their cathode supply chain.


S Korea September chemical exports fall 6.1%

S Korea September chemical exports fall 6.1%

The slump in South Korean exports eased further in September in a positive sign for an economy that depends heavily on trade, said Bloomberg.

Shipments adjusted for working-day differences decreased 2.1% from a year earlier, the customs office said Sunday. Headline exports fell 4.4% in September, compared with a 8.3% drop in the previous month. Economists had forecast a 9.3% decline. Overall imports fell 16.5%, resulting in a trade surplus of USD3.7 billion.

Korean exports began to sink late last year as semiconductor prices slid and demand from China weakened. Higher energy costs and interest rates have also weighed on the global demand that South Korea depends on to power its economy. Exports to US increased 9% in September, while those to China gained for a second month.

South Korea is one of the world’s largest exporters, with its manufacturers embedded in a wide swath of global supply chains. Its exposure to global trade makes the nation a useful indicator for the health of the world economy.

Policy makers have voiced hopes exports would return to growth by the end of 2023, with Finance Minister Choo Kyung-Ho saying last week shipments may turn positive in October. The latest breakdown on technology exports, which account for roughly a third of overall shipments, shows demand is starting to bounce back from a trough at the start of 2023.

The World Trade Organization said in August that global merchandise trade volumes turned up in the second quarter after two periods of decline, although uncertainties continue to cloud the outlook.

We remind, South Korea’s exports shrank last month for 11 consecutive months but signs of a recovery in demand for the country’s mainstay export item semiconductors, coupled with brisk Korean car sales overseas, have heightened expectations for a turnaround in exports in the last quarter of this year.


Ultra low-sulfur diesel loadings from Russia's Primorsk to fall in October

MRC) -- Ultra low-sulfur diesel loadings from the Russian Baltic Sea port of Primorsk are set to fall in October by 80% month on month on a daily basis to 210,000 metric tons from 1.08 million metric tons scheduled for September, as per Reuters.

Last week, Russia temporarily banned exports of gasoline and diesel to cope with a domestic market shortage, but made some exemptions, including for transit cargoes. After the ban, Russian pipeline operator Transneft stopped export shipments of diesel fuel from Primorsk and the Black Sea's Novorossiisk port from Sept. 22.

Ultra low-sulphur diesel is shipped to Primorsk and Novorossiysk via the Transneft pipeline system. According to the market sources, diesel volumes planned for loadings from Primorsk in October originate from Belarus' refineries.

Transneft has not immediately replied to a request for comment. In 2021, Belarus and Russia entered into an agreement on transportation and transit transhipment for exports of petroleum products from Belarusian refineries via Russian ports.

Belarus' state energy company Belneftekhim declined to comment.

We remind, Russia may introduce quotas on overseas fuel exports if a complete export ban imposed last week does not succeed in bringing down persistently high gasoline and diesel prices, its Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said. The government said in a statement late on Thursday that Novak told a meeting of senior managers at Russian oil companies that the ban on the export of gasoline and diesel had initially led to a fall in prices on the commodity exchange.