Once Tesla’s new Berlin Gigafactory starts cranking out battery packs, it’s going to require plenty of lithium, among other raw materials. We don’t know to what extent Tesla is working with German industrial planners, but we do know that European policymakers have a strategy to establish all the key elements of a local supply chain for the growing EV industry. So, it’s unlikely to be a coincidence that a lithium processing facility is planned for a location very near the Gigafactory.
Rock Tech Lithium, a company with offices in Canada and Germany, is planning to build a production plant for battery-grade lithium hydroxide in Guben, Brandenburg. The company has acquired a 12-hectare site in the Guben South industrial park, just a few miles away from the Gigafactory site in Grünheide.
Rock Tech intends to locate all production steps of lithium refining in one plant at the Guben site, which it envisions as part of an “e-mobility cluster” taking shape in the Brandenburg region. The company plans to invest up to 470 million euros in the new plant, which is expected to employ some 160 technicians, engineers and production staff. Projected annual production is 24,000 metric tons of lithium hydroxide, enough to equip around 500,000 EVs.
We are thrilled to announce the achievement of a major milestone in Rock Tech Lithium's history today: We are planning Europe's first lithium hydroxide converter in Guben, Germany. #Cleantech #Brandenburg pic.twitter.com/DpwJwOpOva
— Rock Tech Lithium (@RockTechLithium) October 11, 2021
The converter is scheduled to start operations in 2024. Locally sourced renewable energy is to be used for production. By 2030, the company plans to obtain around 50 percent of the raw materials it uses from recycling spent batteries.
“We are becoming the lithium partner of the automotive industry, and are building our own, previously non-existent infrastructure for battery-grade lithium hydroxide in Europe,” said Rock Tech CEO Dirk Harbecke. “Our goal is to be the first company worldwide to create a closed loop for lithium. Guben seems to us to be the ideal location for this, with subsidies also playing a significant role.”
“With Rock Tech Lithium, we are strengthening our position as the future center of European e-mobility,” said Jörg Steinbach, Minister for Economic Affairs, Labor and Energy of the State of Brandenburg. “Brandenburg will be home to the entire value chain in the future, from raw material processing to battery and cell production to e-car construction as well as battery recycling.”
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