By Kim Seung-yeon
SEOUL, July 31 (Yonhap) — SKC Co. said Monday it is teaming up with Japan’s Toyota Tsusho Corp. for a joint venture to produce and supply battery-grade copper foil in North America, advancing into the world’s most burgeoning electric vehicle (EV) market.
Under the memorandum of understanding, SK Nexilis Co., SKC’s copper foil-making subsidiary, and Toyota Tsusho will co-invest to build a manufacturing facility and work together on long-term supply deals with potential customers, the Seoul-based company said.
Further details on the partnership were not available.
Copper foil is a key anode component used in lithium-ion battery cells for EVs. SK Nexilis touts a technology to produce the world’s thinnest copper foil — about one-thirtieth the thickness of a human hair — and the widest at 1.4 meters and longest of up to 77 kilometers.
The latest deal with Toyota Tsusho will help SK Nexilis accelerate its global expansion in the battery materials business, it said.
SK Nexilis is building a factory in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, with a plan to begin commercial operation later this year. Another plant is under construction in the Polish city of Stalowa Wola for completion by next year.
SK Nexilis aims to boost its copper foil production capacity to 250,000 tons a year.
The two companies will also collaborate on the sourcing of critical minerals for secondary batteries, SKC said. Toyota Tsusho has a wide range of business deals related to the supply of key minerals, including lithium supplies in Argentina.
SKC, a unit under the energy-to-telecom conglomerate SK Group, is pivoting to an advanced materials company with a focus on copper foil and other advanced components, like semiconductor packaging.
Earlier this month, SKC announced a plan to invest as much as 6 trillion won (US$4.72 billion) in battery and semiconductor components, as well as other green materials sectors, with the goal of generating 11.4 trillion won in revenue by 2027.