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Battery maker LG Energy Solution and Korean steel producer POSCO are backing Townsville’s TECH project to the tune of more than $19 million ($US15 million).

They have entered into a binding agreement for equity investment in TECH proponent Queensland Pacific Metals, as well as binding offtake agreements for 10,000 tonnes contained nickel and 1000 tonnes contained cobalt from the project.

LGES Global SCM Centre leader Dongsoo Kim described it as the most meaningful supply chain investment for LG Energy Solution since the company spun out from LG Chem.

“We believe the TECH project will deliver sustainable nickel and cobalt production that is in line with LGES’ operating philosophy. And our proactive investments in the supply chain such as this will ultimately play a role in further satisfying our customers.”

LGES will invest $US10.5 million in QPM and POSCO will invest $US4.5 million, giving them 7.5 per cent and 3.2 per cent stakes respectively.

The proposed TECH facility at the Lansdown Eco-Industrial Precinct on Townsville’s outskirts would produce key battery chemicals, extracted from ore imported from New Caledonia.

Early this year the company formally committed to expanding the TECH project to process 1.2 – 1.5 million wet tpa ore, at least twice the capacity contemplated in the pre-feasibility study.

It also produced an updated project schedule, with construction expected to start around April next year and first production targeted for 2023.

QPM described this week’s offtake deals as a major milestone for the TECH (Townsville Energy Chemical Hub) project.

“We warmly welcome LG Energy Solution and POSCO as shareholders to Queensland Pacific Metals and look forward to the day where the TECH project becomes a significant supplier of nickel and cobalt to each company,” QPM managing director Stephen Grocott said.

“The ability for QPM to attract and establish business relationships with companies of the calibre of LG Energy Solution and POSCO is validation for our company and what we are trying to achieve with the TECH project. We have developed excellent relationships with LG Energy Solution and POSCO and look forward to building on these for years to come.”