Rock Tech Lithium (TSXV: RCK) has received permission for an early start to the construction of its Guben lithium converter in Germany. First significant on-site work for this strategic critical mineral project is expected within the upcoming next weeks.
Rock Tech first announced plans to build the lithium converter in Guben, Brandenburg, in October 2021. The facility, designed to produce battery-grade lithium hydroxide, will be situated about 60 km away from Tesla’s plant in Grünheide.
The decision follows an Europe-wide search by Rock Tech for a location to refine the raw material sourced from its Georgia Lake lithium project in Ontario.
“Our goal is to be the first company in the world to create a closed loop for lithium. Guben seems to us to be the ideal location for this, with subsidies also playing an important role,” Rock Tech’s CEO Dirk Harbecke stated at the time of the announcement.
In February 2022, Rock Tech applied with the Brandenburg environmental agency for the first partial permit and an early start of the project. In the course of the application procedure, which involved public participation, no objections were received, and the authorities subsequently granted approval for the first tranche of permits.
The approval for an early start is also an encouraging indicator that permission for construction of the Guben converter will be granted in due course, the company said on Thursday. In November, Rock Tech submitted the second and final tranche of permit applications for this to the authority.
Approval for construction of the Guben converter is expected from summer 2023 onwards, according to the company.
“The production of our battery-grade lithium hydroxide will be an essential part of the battery mineral supply chains in Europe – this is another reason why the approval by the authority is an important step towards implementation and sends a clear signal to the market,” added Klaus Schmitz, Rock Tech’s chief operating officer.
Once completed, the Guben converter will be the first of its kind in Europe, with expected annual production capacity of 24,000 tonnes of battery-grade lithium hydroxide from 2025. Total cost of the project is estimated at 650 million euros.
To date, more than 250,000 working hours and over 45 million euros have been invested by Rock Tech in the planning the design and construction of the Guben converter. With the early start permission, necessary groundwork, as well as the construction of roads, office and storage buildings, can now begin.
Shares of Rock Tech Lithium surged 16.5% as of 12:30 p.m. ET, giving the Vancouver-based company a market capitalization of C$249.3 million ($186.6m).