SEOUL -- In an effort to secure a stable supply of raw materials for electric vehicle batteries, SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won has strived to establish a cooperation model with Zambia, a copper mining powerhouse in Africa. Copper is used for battery foils that work as the bridge between external components and internal lithium-ion transports.
At talks with Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema in New York on September 20 (local time), Chey proposed cooperation in the fields of electric vehicle batteries and energy, Introducing SK nexilis as the world's No. 1 copper foil manufacturer, the group said in a statement released in Seoul.
Battery foils made of aluminum and copper are used as anodes and cathodes for secondary batteries. SK nexilis, an SK Group unit, aims to establish an annual production system of 250,000 tons in South Korea, Malaysia, Europe and North America by 2025.
"Zambia's copper mine is an interesting opportunity for SK as it supplies raw materials for copper foil, a key material for electric vehicle battery manufacturing," Chey was quoted as saying. "In addition to cooperation in the electric vehicle battery sector, SK will be able to help Zambia's energy transition using green energy such as solar and hydroelectric power."
Hichilema voiced consent to Chey's proposal, saying that Zambia hopes to have "detailed discussions" for business cooperation, SK said, adding that through cooperation with Zambia, the group can secure a stable supply of raw materials for electric vehicle batteries.
Mining is crucial to the Zambian economy and is responsible for three-quarters of Zambia’s export earnings. However, mining has resulted in the production of a large volume of waste material. The African country is trying to establish a value chain in clean energy.
SK nexilis has strived to establish a global production system. In July 2022, a ground-breaking ceremony was held at an industrial base in Stalowa Wola in southeastern Poland to build a thin copper foil plant with an annual production capacity of 50,000 tons. When completed in the first half of 2024, it would be the biggest copper foil plant in Europe.
SK On, a battery-making unit of SK Group, and its American partner, Ford, have set up a battery joint venture called "BlueOval SK." SK Innovation, the mother company of SK On, aims to expand its battery production capacity at plants in South Korea, China, Hungary and the United States from 40GWh per year to 500GWh by 2030s.
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