Canada-based Rock Tech Lithium announced the construction of Europe’s first lithium refining facility in Guben, Brandenburg. It plans to produce battery-grade lithium hydroxide for lithium-ion batteries, making it a perfect fit for Tesla Giga Berlin, which happens to be just 60 km (37 miles) away.
Rock Tech Lithium has a lithium hydroxide mine project in Georgia Lake, Ontario in Canada. It plans to build a “converter factory” in Lusatia, Brandenburg, to refine the lithium hydroxide from the mines in Canada. As noted in a Handelsblatt report, the planned facility would be Europe’s largest lithium facility to date.
In a press release, Rock Tech Lithium noted that it plans to invest up to €470 million (~$545 million) on all its factory units for the Guben site. The company expects the converter plant to be complete by 2024. It estimates that around 160 technicians, engineers, and production staff will be needed to operate the entire plant.
With 160 employees, RockTech believes it could produce about 24,000 metric tons of lithium hydroxide per year, enough to equip around 500,000 electric cars with lithium-ion 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. Our goal is to be the first company worldwide to create a close loop for lithium,” said Rock Tech CEO Dirk Harbecke. “Guben seems to us to be the ideal location for this, which subsidies also playing a significant role.”
Coincidentally, Tesla Giga Berlin is just 60 km away, and its initial production goal is to manufacture 500,000 vehicles per year. Tesla CEO Elon Musk thinks it will take Giga Berlin about a year to reach full production capacity.
At Tesla’s recent Giga Fest “Country Fair” in Brandenburg, the company displayed a poster stating it aims to produce 1 car body every 45 seconds. Elon Musk explained that with those times, Giga Berlin might be able to make ~10,000 vehicles per week if it ran 24/7, which equates to 520,000 cars per year.
Rock Tech has not officially announced a partnership with Tesla Giga Berlin. However, its proximity to Gigafactory Berlin may be beneficial to both companies. Besides vehicles, Tesla plans to produce its 4680 cells in Brandenburg, and it will need to establish a supply chain to make batteries.