Rock Tech to build lithium plant in Germany

Rock Tech Lithium announces the construction of a production plant for battery-grade lithium hydroxide in Guben, Brandenburg – 60 kilometres from Tesla’s plant in Grünheide. The plan is to produce around 24,000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide per year there, or enough for around 500,000 electric cars.

Rock Tech Lithium is a German-Canadian company with headquarters in Vancouver that extracts the raw material for the lithium hydroxide from its mine project in Georgia Lake in Ontario, Canada. A so-called ‘converter factory’ is now to be built in Brandenburg’s Lusatia region to refine the resource. The production facility is to create 160 jobs, and completion of the plant is planned for 2024. Rock Tech puts the planned total investment volume at the Guben site “for all factory units at up to 470 million euros”. However, the company explicitly makes the final realisation of the plans dependent on funding commitments from the state.

According to the lithium producer, the decision for Guben was preceded by a Europe-wide search for a location. The region now selected scored with its “long industrial tradition and existing infrastructure”. The twelve-hectare site, which Rock Tech wants to acquire for a good 1.1 million euros, is located in the recently expanded Guben South Industrial Park and, according to the company, offers extensive space for the construction of facilities for all individual production steps of lithium refinement. And: the already good transport connections will be further optimised by a possible railway connection. Renewable energy from the region is to be used for production, the company adds.

The Tesla factory in Grünheide (where not only electric vehicles but also battery cells are to be built), which is only 60 kilometres away, and BASF’s cathode factory in Schwarzheide, which is also not far away, are not explicitly mentioned, but are certainly important for the decision. In its announcement, Rock Tech only states that it wants to become a central part of the battery value chain and thus part of Brandenburg’s e-mobility cluster. Rock Tech CEO Dirk Harbecke made similar comments to the German publication Handelsblatt: “Brandenburg will be one of the first regions in Europe to cover almost the entire value chain of electric cars.” Although the lithium for the company’s own factory comes from the mine in Canada, everything else is covered from the processing of raw materials to the construction of electric cars, he said.

“Our goal is to be the first company in the world to create a closed loop for lithium. Guben seems to us to be the ideal location for this, with subsidies also playing an important role,” Harbecke continues. By 2030, his company aims to obtain around 50 per cent of the raw materials used from recycling from spent batteries. The demand is gigantic, Harbecke said. That is why Rock Tech will not remain with just one factory for long; Harbecke announces five plants to be built year after year in Europe.

The CEO wants to position Rock Tech first and foremost as a lithium partner for the automotive industry, but according to Handelsblatt, he is also seeking talks with cathode specialists such as BASF. According to the CEO, “German and European customers are to be explicitly targeted”.

In Brandenburg, the lithium producer is welcomed with open arms: “With Rock Tech Lithium, we are strengthening our position as the future center of European e-mobility. Brandenburg will be home to the entire value chain in the future,” said the state Minister for Economic Affairs, Labour and Energy Jörg Steinbach. “From raw material processing to battery and cell production to e-car construction as well as battery recycling. In this way, we are once again clearly demonstrating our own claim that Brandenburg is a state of innovation. I am all the more pleased that Rock Tech Lithium has chosen Guben as an industrial location in the energy region of Lusatia. This is an important sign for the people of the region. The Lusatia structural process has begun and is showing its first positive results. Lusatia is and will remain an important energy region in Germany.”

Rock Tech Lithium was founded in 1996 and listed on the TSX Venture and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. The company is led by Chairman and CEO Dirk Harbecke, CFO Stefan Krause, CTO Don Stevens and Esther Bahne as Chief Strategy & Marketing Officer. Stefan Krause was in the headlines just recently because a new company with him as the main shareholder is to buy the Streetscooter division of Deutsche Post. The former BMW manager is otherwise known in the industry as a former board member of eMobility start-ups such as Faraday Future and Canoo. (in German)


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