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POSCO builds lithium extracting plant in Argentina

POSCO Co., South Korea's largest steelmaker, said Monday that it has completed the construction of a lithium plant in Argentina that will mass produce the material needed to make batteries for electronic devices.

The plant located in Jujuy, in the northern part of Argentina, can produce up to 200 tons of lithium every year by directly extracting the material from water from a nearby lake through chemical reactions, a technique that requires less time than traditional means of production.

The company said its recovery rate -- the rate of obtaining lithium from lake water -- is over 80 percent, much higher than the 20 percent under the existing methods, an improvement that would help reduce overall production costs.

The new way of extraction was developed jointly by POSCO and the Research Institute of Industrial Science and Technology. The plant is expected to start producing lithium in 2016 after going through test operations, the company said.

Lithium is a key material mostly used in rechargeable batteries for electric vehicles, laptop computers and mobile phones. South Korea depends mostly on lithium imports, though it is one of the world's leading battery producing countries. (Yonhap)