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Korea backs NEO Battery Materials plant

Province of Gyeonggi-do will support silicon anode facility Metal Tech News - June 1, 2022

In a major step toward achieving its mission to help accelerate the mass adoption of electric vehicles by providing an alternative to the graphite anode materials typically used in the lithium-ion batteries that power them, NEO Battery Materials Ltd. plans to invest US$20 million (C$25 million) to build and expand a silicon anode plant in the province of Gyeonggi, South Korea.

As an anode material, silicon has demonstrated the potential to have up to 10 times more storage capacity than the graphite that currently serves this purpose in lithium-ion batteries. Silicon, however, has one major drawback – when charged with lithium, it swells more than three times and becomes unstable.

NEO utilizes a patented nanocoating layer for silicon anode material that disperses the stress caused by this swelling. The company says its nanocoated silicon anode material, known as NBMSiDE, significantly improves the longevity and cycling stability compared to conventional silicon-based particles.

Earlier this year, Canada-based NEO announced that the province of Gyeonggi, or Gyeonggi-do, had approved plans to build an NBMSiDE production facility on a 2.5-acre property at the Oseong International (Foreign) Investment Zone, an industrial complex in Pyeongtaek City, South Korea.

"Despite our status as a micro-small capitalization foreign company compared to existing sizeable businesses in the Oseong Zone, NEO was approved by Gyeonggi Province and the Foreign Investment Review Board," NEO Battery Materials President and CEO Spencer Huh said in January. "We strongly believe that the province highly appreciated and held confidence in our clear roadmap of NEO's silicon anode, NBMSiDE, commercialization plan along with our proprietary technology and our high managerial capacity accustomed to the lithium-ion battery industry."

NEO has now signed a memorandum of understanding with Gyeonggi-do that establishes grounds for investments and cooperation to advance the mass production of silicon anode materials for EV batteries.

Under the agreement, NEO subsidiary NBM Korea Co. Ltd. will invest roughly $20 million into the South Korea silicon anode facility over the next five years. Working alongside the province's officials and entities, NEO aims to transform Gyeonggi-do into an essential hub for the research, development, and manufacturing of silicon anode materials.

Recognizing the importance of commercializing silicon anode materials, Gyeonggi-do has decided to provide active and continuous administrative and business support to enable the early mass-production of NBMSiDE.

"Lithium-ion batteries are the next catalyst for South Korea's economic growth, succeeding the semiconductor industry, but the Korean battery industry is only a house built on sand without distinctive competitiveness and innovation in battery material technology," said Han Kyu Lee, second vice-governor of administration of Gyeonggi-do. "We expect that the cooperation between NEO Battery Materials, which possesses silicon anode material technology, and the Gyeonggi Province will substantially contribute to increasing the competitiveness of battery material technology."

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Shane Lasley, Metal Tech News

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With more than 16 years of covering mining, Shane is renowned for his insights and and in-depth analysis of mining, mineral exploration and technology metals.


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