Rock Tech loses funding support from Germany

Lithium producer Rock Tech will not receive any money from the federal funding programme created in 2023 to build a battery cell ecosystem in Germany. According to a media report, the company is now hoping for support from elsewhere to complete its lithium converter in Guben - in particular from the state of Brandenburg.

Image: Rock Tech Lithium

As the German publication Handelsblatt writes, citing information from Rock-Tech CEO Dirk Harbecke, the company received a surprise rejection notice from the Federal Ministry of Economics on Monday. The company had been counting relatively firmly on federal funding from the pot called ‘Resilience and sustainability of the battery cell production ecosystem’. The funding guideline was launched by the Ministry of Economic Affairs last year as part of the ‘Temporary Crisis and Transition Framework’ (TCTF) created by the EU Commission.

Rock Tech Lithium is a German-Canadian company headquartered in Vancouver that extracts the raw material for lithium hydroxide, which is widely used in electric car batteries, from its mining project in Georgia Lake in Ontario, Canada. This material is to be refined into battery-ready products in Guben, among other places. According to previous information, the company plans to produce around 24,000 tonnes of battery-grade lithium hydroxide per year in Guben from 2025. By 2030, around 50 per cent of the raw materials are to be obtained from the recycling of used batteries. Mercedes-Benz has already secured an annual supply of 10,000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide from Guben.

As a lithium processing company, Rock Tech is therefore an upstream link in the battery cell supply chain. In other words, it is actually the target group of the aforementioned funding programme. At the presentation of the funding programme last year, Economics Minister Robert Habeck said that investments in the battery value chain would contribute to Europe’s strategic sovereignty. “It is disappointing that we are now not receiving the funds from the TCTF programme,” CEO Harbecke is quoted as saying in Handelsblatt. He added: “However, we are in very constructive dialogue with the Brandenburg state government. “We assume that the state of Brandenburg will be able to mobilise sufficient regional funding to realise the project”. The local community of Guben also has a “great interest” in the project being completed.

Construction of the converter plant in Guben began at the end of March 2023, with the company stating at the time that the processing plant would go into operation in mid-2025 and produce battery-grade lithium hydroxide from 2026. It also stated that the planned total investment volume for the plant would be around 650 million euros. However, Harbecke now spoke to Handelsblatt about a planned investment of 800 million euros, with “up to 200 million euros” in federal subsidies expected to be received via the rejected application for funding.

Both at the ground-breaking ceremony and in view of the cancellation of production, Rock Tech emphasises that its converter in Guben is in line with the EU’s new strategic goals of securing twelve times the demand for lithium by 2030 and at the same time processing 40 per cent of lithium regionally. The company is referring to a new EU law on securing critical raw materials.

“Our plant in Guben is the most advanced converter project for lithium in Europe,” emphasised Harbecke at the start of construction just over a year ago. Now he adds: “If the EU wants to achieve its goal of bringing 40 per cent of the processing of critical raw materials to Europe, then Europe needs twelve lithium converters. So far, there is not a single one.” (in German)


about „Rock Tech loses funding support from Germany“

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *