Ganfeng Lithium, the world's biggest lithium company by market capitalisation, said on Thursday its subsidiary would invest a total 8.4 billion yuan (US$1.3 billion) in two projects that will make "new-type" lithium batteries.
China's Ganfeng is best known as a supplier of battery-grade lithium to clients including electric vehicle (EV) maker Tesla, but also makes batteries and last week secured 973.1 million yuan of investment in battery unit Ganfeng LiEnergy, including from electronics giant Xiaomi.
Ganfeng LiEnergy will spend 5.4 billion yuan to set up an industrial park in Chongqing, southwest China, with annual battery production capacity of 10 gigawatt hours (GWh) and an advanced battery research institute, Ganfeng said in a filing.
It did not elaborate on what the "new-type" batteries would be, although it said the institute would provide technical support for "various solid-state batteries," which use solid electrolytes rather than flammable liquid ones.
First production is expected within two years of the start of construction, which is slated to begin within three months, said Ganfeng.
The second project will see Ganfeng LiEnergy spend another 3 billion yuan on a 5 GWh battery plant in Ganfeng's home province of Jiangxi, which will be put into operation in October 2023.
The 15 GWh total planned capacity marks a major escalation in Ganfeng's battery ambitions as demand for EVs grows.
China's top battery maker, Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd (CATL), currently has 69.1 GWh of production capacity and another 77.5 GWh under construction.
Ganfeng, which has this year splashed out some US$900 million on lithium assets at home and overseas as rising prices swell its coffers, said in May it would explore setting up a battery plant in Argentina.
The company's Shenzhen shares are up around 82per cent year-to-date, giving Ganfeng a market capitalisation of 252.63 billion yuan, according to Refinitiv Eikon data.
(US$1 = 6.4612 Chinese yuan renminbi)
(Reporting by Tom Daly; Editing by Mark Potter)