Zorlu aims to power the future

Dunya Executive - - BUSINESS BY LAW - OZLEM ERMIS BEYHAN

Zorlu-owned Vestel was one of the companies which qualified for the ‘Super Incentive’ program annonuced by President Erdogan last week. It plans to invest in electric battery production which is estimated to make a $5 billion contribution to fighting Turkey’s current account deficit. Beyond the ecosystem that it will create, the investment, projected to be completed in 2023, will boost local capacity in an emerging technology with immense growth potential. “I strongly believe that Turkey will become a key player in

the region,” Zorlu Holding CEO, Omer Yungul, said.

Nickel, the base component of battery production, is a key factor in the industry’s value-added potential. The mineral increases in value ten-fold when it is converted to a final product and much of the competition is to capitalize on this value, Yungul said, adding that Vestel saw the importance of producing batteries three years ago when it was involved in the domestically-produced electric automobile project.

“Storage will be the most important factor,” he said. “Nickel is at heart of the business and we are are mining it. We started negotiating with a global company in this field two years ago and convinced them to invest in Turkey. But the companies that we would sell the products to wanted this investment to be done in Poland. We did not accept that. This investment is the beginning of a new era and it is a very fertile business. We wanted to have it in Turkey so continued with our search for investors. Right now, China, South Korea and Japan lead this business. We started negotiations with Chinese-based GSR. In October we made a preliminary agreement.”

Yungul admits they were demoralized from time to time by the delays originating from the Chinese company’s internal processes but never got desperate. “Sweden has given incredible incentives for this investment, and the Swedish government has been very active in attracting investment,” he added. “There was a big strategic war and we put up a fight for it.” Vestel won the struggle with the help of the super incentive and in February the contract was signed with the Chinese company.

25,000 MW factory w ll be bu lt

“Mining nickel is the most difficult phase but its value will increase as consumption increases,” Yungul said. “We kicked off the investment. The pre-investment process will last 18 months. We have already completed one third of this. The investment will start in mid-2019. We will increase the production of each of nickel and cobalt from 10,000 tonnes to 40,000 tonnes. In the end, we will reach 120,000 tonnes of capacity to produce nickel sulfate. This is a very important figure, an investment that will make Turkey one of the top five countries in the world.”

Nickel sulphate and cobalt sulphate used in batteries will be produced in Gordes and 20,000 tonnes of each compound will be sent to a facility planned for Eskisehir. At the end of the investment, production capacity will reach approximately $5 billion, 90 percent of which will be exported. A 25,000-megawatt battery plant will be also established.

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