Canada-based Rock Tech Lithium is planning big announcements in upcoming weeks including the selection of a site for a second lithium hydroxide converter, Kallanish learns from the company.

Site selection is now down to two possible locations in northern US and Ontario, Canada, the firm says promising more details soon. It explains the Inflation Reduction Act in the US has significantly increased the attractiveness of the North American EV and battery market.

The plans follow its flagship lithium refinery project in Guben, Germany, for which engineering is nearing completion. Rock Tech had earlier said it plans to build five of such plants – one in North America and four in Europe “at the doorstep of its customers.”

With a planned production capacity of 120,000 tonnes/year of lithium hydroxide by 2029, Rock Tech expects to cover a projected 30% of the industry’s growing demand and position itself as Europe’s market leader.

In a market update, the company said the Guben converter project has made “significant progress” in terms of engineering, development and finance. The final permit to enable construction and operation is expected in Q4 2023. Construction is scheduled to end in early 2025, enabling first production in Q3 2025. After this initial ramp-up phase, Rock Tech will begin to produce battery-grade lithium hydroxide in Q1 2026.

“The selection of an EPCM [engineering, procurement, construction and management] contractor is in its final stage and selection will be finalised in the coming weeks,” the company adds. “Additionally, negotiations are ongoing with major companies in the lithium, battery production and automotive sectors to form strategic partnerships. Negotiations are expected to be finalised in the upcoming weeks.”

Despite the lack of timeline precision, Rock Tech says it’s making “rapid progress” with subsidies, equity and debt financing. It expects to receive €450m ($490m) in debt from European banks, while mandating Deutsche Bank as placement agent to secure €350m in equity and subsidies from investors and government.

In Canada, development in its Georgia Lake lithium mining project in Ontario is also progressing with the company reporting “positive assay results” from its 2023 winter drill programme. The step-out drilling targets the expansion of known pegmatite zones at the Main Zone North and McVittie deposits. Ultimately, the company seeks to extend the life of mine and the mineral resource “considerably” from 2023 to 2024 through a series of phase exploration programmes. This will pave the way for the project to be moved into construction phase next year.  

The upstream project is planned to produce 100,000 tonnes/year of spodumene concentrate starting from 2025. The feedstock will be sent to Germany to be processed into lithium hydroxide monohydrate (LHM) from Q1 2026. The converter has a planned capacity of 24,000 t/y, enough to power around 500,000 EVs annually.