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Chinese Lithium Battery Chief Urges Beijing to Fix Overcapacity

The chairman of Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt said over-investment in the industry had led to “severe overcapacity” and caused “significant declines” in industry utilisation

A lithium battery pack is seen at the Auto China 2016 auto show in Beijing in this April 2016 file photo by Reuters.


The chairman of Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt has urged Chinese authorities to adopt measures to tackle overcapacity in the lithium battery material industry.

The call, reported by state media on Monday, was timed ahead of the country’s annual parliamentary meeting which starts in Beijing on Tuesday.

Chen Xuehua, who is a delegate to China’s National People’s Congress (NPC), said over-investment in the industry had led to “severe overcapacity” in the last year. And this had caused “significant declines” in industry capacity utilisation.


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“Some companies’ operations are facing great difficulties, there are suspended operations, falling prices, idled equipment and staff layoffs,” Chen said, according to a report by Shanghai Securities News.

China’s lithium iron phosphate capacity will reach 5.75 million metric tons in 2025, while global demand for the cathode material widely used in batteries is pegged at about 2.67 million tons that year, he added, citing industry data.

Chen, whose company is a major producer of battery materials nickel and cobalt, proposed that the government publish timely industry information, establish an alerting system to flag mismatch of resources, capacity and demand, and provide guidance on investment and development.

Regulations in Europe and the United States have made it harder to source waste batteries and recycled raw materials, posing challenges to China’s leading role in the lithium battery chain, said Chen, whose company recycles used batteries.

China should encourage more imports of used battery materials, especially hydroxide intermediate made from waste lithium batteries, including by lowering tariffs, he said.

China bans imports of used lithium batteries and black mass, the shredded material which comes from used batteries, which can include lithium, cobalt and nickel. These metals can then be extracted and used to make new batteries.


  • Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard




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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years.


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