Jiangxi Copper Co, one of China’s biggest copper producers, said it would invest 11.4 billion yuan ($1.76 billion) in a project to make 100,000 tonnes per year of copper foil for lithium batteries.
The bumper investment commitment – unanimously approved at a board meeting on Thursday – comes after the company last week flagged a more than 300% year-on-year jump in net profits for the first half amid booming prices.
In a filing to the Shanghai Stock Exchange, Jiangxi Copper said the foil project would be located in Shangrao Economic and Technological Development Zone in its home province of Jiangxi.
It will be divided into two 50,000 tonne phases, with the first 25,000 tonne line of Phase 1 due to start up by end-2023 before full production is reached a year later. The second phase is targeted for start-up by end-2028.
“The first half of 2021 has seen a tidal wave of announcements of new electrodeposited copper foil mill projects, as well as second and third phase expansions at existing mills,” consultancy Roskill said in a note last month.
The foil is used as a current collector in lithium batteries and companies are investing in production to meet growing demand from the burgeoning electric-vehicle sector.
Global foil capacity additions announced in January-May alone total 560,000 tonnes per year, equivalent to a 67% increase in the nameplate industry capacity at end-2020, Roskill said.
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Jiangxi Copper also said it would invest 800 million yuan in another project to make 220,000 tonnes per year of copper rods and 600 million yuan in a joint venture to make 30,000 tonnes per year of cast materials. That brings the total investment across the three projects to 12.8 billion yuan ($1.98 billion).
The copper rod project and first 15,000 tonnes phase of the cast materials project are due for launch by the end of 2022 and will also be in Shangrao, it said.
(By Tom Daly; Editing by Nick Macfie)