Umicore and Samsung SDI have signed a strategic agreement to supply nearly 80,000 tonnes of NMC (Nickel Manganese Cobalt) cathode material from 2020. The supply will come from Umicore plants in various regions, most of them initially from Korea.
According to the Belgian materials and recycling group, the majority of the agreed quantities will be for automotive applications, with a smaller portion for energy storage systems. Samsung SDI is securing its supply in the growing lithium-ion battery market and can then offer this to customers such as large car manufacturers. Umicore claims that the volume commitment set out in the supply contract enables predictability and transparency along the electric vehicle supply chain.
Just a month ago Umicore signed a similar deal with LG Chem for 125,000 tonnes of NMC cathode materials. This deal will also come into effect in 2020. However, most of the agreed supply will come from the Umicore plant currently under construction in Poland.
To have sufficient raw material available itself, Umicore again signed a contract with raw material trader Glencore in early summer of this year. Under the long-term agreement, Glencore will supply cobalt from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Umicore refineries worldwide. However, the scope of the supply agreement is unclear: both companies did not comment on prices and volumes.
Umicore is now also in business with German carmakers. Together with Audi, the Belgian company is developing a cycle for the recycling of high-voltage batteries from electric cars – the aim is to ensure that the materials can be used over and over again. To date, companies have assumed a recycling rate of 95 per cent for metals such as cobalt, nickel and copper. Last year Umicore also founded a consortium with BMW and Northvolt to jointly develop a complete value chain for electric car battery cells in Europe. The joint effort aims to combine the various fields of competence from cell chemistry and development to production and recycling and thus to ensure the development of know-how that could be essential for the establishment of European cell production.
CEO Marc Grynberg sees the company on the right track, and the new agreement with Samsung SDI “marks another key milestone in the consistent execution of our long-term growth strategy”. The agreement also underlines that a sustainable value chain for batteries is taking shape and “demonstrates the commitment of key industry players to support the growing penetration of EVs globally”.