Mercedes to source lithium from Rock Tech

Mercedes-Benz and Rock Tech Lithium have signed an agreement for an annual supply of an average of 10,000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide. The Rock Tech plant in Brandenburg is to play a central role in this.

The amount of lithium hydroxide, which is expected to be sufficient for the batteries of around 150,000 fully electric vehicles per year, will be processed into battery-grade material in the so-called converter in Guben, according to the Mercedes announcement. The carmaker is currently not giving any details about the financial scope of the agreement or its duration.

Rock Tech Lithium wants to mine lithium ore in Canada (Georgia Lake in Ontario), among other places, and then process it into lithium hydroxide in its local converter factories near customers. The material produced in the Guben converter is to be supplied to “the battery partners of Mercedes-Benz”. However, it will be some time before that happens, especially since the plant in Guben is not even in operation yet: Rock Tech wants to complete construction in 2024, and the qualification phase should begin in 2026, according to the German carmaker. The Canadian-German company plans a capacity of 24,000 tonnes per year, so Mercedes would take slightly less than half.

With the refining in Germany and the agreed “responsible sourcing” of the raw material (the lithium mines must, among other things, meet the mining standard of the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurances (IRMA)), Mercedes not only hopes for a reliable supply of raw materials, but also a contribution to the sustainable battery supply chain: the lithium hydroxide is to be produced in a CO2-neutral way.

The cooperation between Mercedes-Benz and Rock Tech does not come as a surprise: the two companies had already agreed on a strategic partnership during the German-Canadian summit in August. The current agreement is now the first result.

“This significant amount of lithium sourced directly from Rock Tech will help Mercedes-Benz to advance localisation of European production of state-of-the-art battery cells,” says Markus Schäfer, Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG, Chief Technology Officer, responsible for Development and Purchasing. “Together with additional sourcing partnerships in the future, the on average 10,000 tonnes of lithium per annum will play a key role in securing the lithium supply for our battery production in Europe, to help achieve our ambitious electrification goals.”

“Lithium hydroxide from Rock Tech offers Mercedes-Benz the opportunity to support two strategic goals: localized and reliable sourcing as well as production under high sustainability standards,” says Markus Bruegmann, CEO of Rock Tech Lithium. “We are very pleased to have found a partner that will take important steps with us towards a more resilient lithium supply chain and demonstrates trust in us to deliver an important part of their strategy and of the e-mobility transformation.”


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