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Rock Tech’s lithium converter project in Germany faces setback in federal funding

Rock Tech, a lithium producer, has hit a roadblock in its plans to secure federal funding for its battery cell ecosystem project in Germany. Despite high hopes, the company received an unexpected rejection from the Federal Ministry of Economics regarding its application for funding under the ‘Resilience and Sustainability of the Battery Cell Production Ecosystem’ program. Now, Rock Tech is turning to the state of Brandenburg for potential support to move forward with its lithium converter project in Guben.

The project aims to refine raw lithium material extracted from its mining operations in Georgia Lake, Ontario, Canada, into battery-grade lithium hydroxide, a key component in electric vehicle batteries. Rock Tech plans to produce approximately 24,000 tonnes of battery-grade lithium hydroxide annually in Guben starting from 2025, with a target of sourcing 50% of raw materials from battery recycling by 2030. Notably, Mercedes-Benz has already secured an annual supply of 10,000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide from the Guben facility.

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Despite being a crucial upstream player in the battery cell supply chain, Rock Tech’s application for federal funding was denied, prompting the company to seek alternative sources of support. While disappointed by the setback, CEO Dirk Harbecke remains optimistic about securing regional funding from the Brandenburg state government. Harbecke highlights the importance of the Guben project to both the local community and the broader European goal of achieving strategic sovereignty in critical raw materials.

Despite the setback in federal funding, construction of the converter plant in Guben began in March 2023, with plans for operation to commence by mid-2025. The total investment volume for the project was initially estimated at around 650 million euros but has now been revised to 800 million euros, with hopes of securing up to 200 million euros in federal subsidies.

Rock Tech’s Guben project aligns with the EU’s strategic objectives of securing a stable lithium supply and processing a significant portion of lithium within Europe. Harbecke emphasizes the urgency of establishing lithium converters in Europe to meet the region’s growing demand and achieve critical raw material processing targets set by the EU. Despite the challenges, Rock Tech remains committed to advancing its Guben project and contributing to Europe’s battery cell production ecosystem.

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