Rock Tech Lithium to build Europe’s first lithium refinery with German firm

Canada’s Rock Tech Lithium and Germany’s Bilfinger SE have agreed to work together on building Europe’s first lithium converter and refinery, in a bid to meet increasing demand for electric vehicles in the region.

The mining company and industrial services provided have signed a memorandum of understanding to build the US$560.2 million lithium hydroxide converter for Rock Tech’s planned battery metals facility located Southeast of Berlin.

Rock Tech, which first announced plans for the construction of the lithium refinery in October last year, will mostly source the ore for the German factory from its own spodumene mine in central Ontario.

Having a local smelter would allow Europe to avoid some of the complex logistical issues involved in shipping lithium oxide found in spodumene rock deposits, and would resemble a key step towards developing a self-sufficient EV manufacturing industry in the region.

The plant will be located just a 90-minute drive away from Tesla’s planned Gigafactory in Germany, and is expected to start operations in 2024 with a nameplate annual production of around 24,000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide from approximately 178,000 tonnes of spodumene concentrate, to be sourced from multiple third parties.

Rock Tech is also preparing a Nasdaq listing to broaden its investor base and help finance the refinery, according to people familiar with the matter.