In the special economic zone in Radzikowice near Nysa, the Belgian company Umicore has opened a plant built at a cost of €660 million to produce cathode materials for car batteries.
Huge buildings, roads, car parks and underground infrastructure were constructed on the 23 hectares of the special economic zone. So far 230 people are employed there, and the target is to employ 400 people. Everything is automated, electrically powered and all electricity is provided by a nearby wind farm.
“This is the most modern plant in the world and the first cathode materials plant in Europe. This is a historic event not only for us, but for the entire green agenda of the European Union”, Umicore CEO Mathias Miedreich said to the guests gathered at the opening.
In a warehouse with a total capacity of 9,000 pallets, 19 metre high racks have been set up. At the heart of production there are buildings with powerful electric furnaces, where precursors are sintered together around the clock to produce powder, which is then used to make cathodes for car batteries. The process of producing the cathode materials itself is patented by Umicore and is a strict secrecy.
The Belgian company operates two more similar plants in Korea and one in China and is preparing the construction of another plant in Canada. The plant in Nysa is technologically the most advanced solution. Production of lithium powder, for example, takes place in sterile, fully ventilated conditions; even the transport lines to the furnaces are covered with transparent panels.
The company has so far developed 23 hectares of land in the Special Economic Zone with its buildings. It still has almost 70 hectares in reserve. Further development depends on the situation on the electromobility market, negotiations with automotive companies and global politics.