The South Korean conglomerate Lotte has announced the construction of a factory in Spain for the production of copper foils for use in battery cells for electric cars. Near Tarragona, up to 30,000 tonnes of copper foils are to be produced per year from 2025.
Construction will be carried out by subsidiary Lotte Energy Materials, which emerged in March 2023 from Iljin Materials, the foil specialist acquired by Lotte. According to the new parent company, Lotte Energy Materials is the first South Korean company to have been accepted into the Volkswagen-led eMobility consortium ‘Future: Fast Forward‘ in Spain. This makes it likely that the Koreans will also supply the PowerCo battery factory under construction in Sagunt near Valencia.
Lotte Energy Materials’ new copper foil factory will be built in Mont-Roig del Camp, a Catalan town in the province of Tarragona in north-eastern Spain. An investment of 560 billion won (391 million euros) is planned to complete the factory with an annual production capacity of 30,000 tonnes by 2025. Potentially, the site has room for expansion to 100,000 tonnes per year. The project is supported by the Spanish government under the PERTE funding programme.
The site itself covers 440,000 square metres. However, Lotte has already secured access to further land with an eye to the future. There is talk of 500,000 square metres of land for solar power generation.
Site development is expected to start before the end of the second half of 2023. According to a rendering published by the company, the plant is not located in an existing industrial area, but among what appear to be agricultural fields. The rendering also shows the areas for the planned expansion buildings. The communication and South Korean media reports do not indicate by when the final expansion with the 100,000 tonnes per year mentioned is to be achieved.
Lotte emphasises, however, that the announced schedule has been adjusted compared to earlier plans. Instead of 25,000 tonnes from 2024, production has been expanded to 30,000 tonnes from 2025 “taking into account the demand of local customers in Europe”.
Lotte Energy Materials produces about 60,000 tonnes of copper foil annually, with 20,000 tonnes coming from facilities in South Korea and 40,000 tonnes from Malaysia. The company plans to reach a 30 per cent share of the global high-value copper foil market by 2028 with an annual capacity of 240,000 tonnes. With potentially 100,000 tonnes per year, the Spanish factory could contribute a large part to this.