Posco/Zhongtai to build rare gas plant in S. Korea

Posco/Zhongtai to build rare gas plant in S. Korea

Steel giant Posco Holdings Inc. says it has tied up with a Chinese firm to build a plant for rare gases used mainly in chipmaking in a bid to meet growing domestic demand.

South Korea’s top steelmaker said it will break ground in 2024 on the factory, which will be located in the southern port city of Gwangyang and will have an annual capacity of 130,000 normal cu m.

The plant is slated to start commercial production of rare gases at the end of 2025, it added.

Posco Holdings holds a 75.1% stake in the joint venture, with cryogenic technology equipment and solution supplier Zhongtai Cryogenic Technology Corp. owning the remainder. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Rare gases refer to neon, krypton and xenon, which are used in everything from chipmaking to medicine to space propulsion.

Posco said the envisioned plant’s capacity is enough to meet 52% of rare gas needs used for domestic chipmaking.

The company said it will supply crude rare gases to the planned factory, with the Chinese company in charge of equipment and technology.

Posco has been producing crude neon since January this year and is planning to expand to xenon and krypton in stages next year.

The steel giant said the factory will be able to stabilize the domestic supply network of rare gases, in which South Korea has relied on imports for most of its needs so far.