The specialty chemical company Johnson Matthey has announced it will exit its battery material business. The company which for several years have developed their proprietary eLNO cathode chemistry and also produces LFP cathode materials is under way to complete the construction of a new cathode production plant in Poland and were in talks of establishing a plant in Finland. The division will now be put on sale.
The reason for the exit is that the company finds that the competition is to fierce and that it will be difficult to obtain profitability in the segment which is dominated by Asian players. Lately soaring raw material prices have contributed to compressed margins when OEMs are expecting even further decreases in price for battery cells.
Johnson and Matthey did have several agreements relating to end-of-life management of lithium-ion batteries and themselves an ambitious plan for using recycled materials in their precursors. The company was planning to establish a hydrometallurgical process adjacent to their cathode production plant in Poland and had entered into an agreement with Oregon-based OnTo for the development of direct recycling processes. The company also had an MOU with Swedish Stena Recycling which would collect and pre-process end-of-life batteries for further treatment at Johnson and Matthey.
The exit leaves Europe with only two home grown cathode production companies, Umicore and BASF. Northvolt, the cell manufacturing startup is also planning to produce its own cathode material. In the same time are several Asian battery material companies looking to enter the European market. Both Ecopro and POSCO from South Korea plan to establish production on the continent and only a few days before Johnson and Matthey’s announcement, Beijing Easpring announced an MOU with Finnish Mineral Group, which was Johnson Matthey’s partner in Finland, on setting up a 50,000 tonnes cathode production plant in Finland.
Read more here: