Lithium is an important resource for many economic sectors, especially for the battery industry where the demand for lithium is increasing. Due to the growing demand generated by its expanding e-mobility market, China is currently the world’s largest producer of lithium hydroxide.
At the moment, China’s production capacity can meet its demand of battery-grade lithium, but Europe is falling behind in this regard. The demand for electric vehicles is increasing in Europe, but the production capacity cannot keep up.
Where the lithium market is heading
Rock Tech Lithium Inc. (OTC: RCKTF) is a company that wants to build a conversion plant in Europe and position itself as a leading lithium hydroxide supplier outside of China in order to enable the European lithium market to grow independently.
“Our strategy is very simple. Up to two years ago, we were really focused on producing a so-called six percent lithium concentrate from our mine in Canada,” said Dirk Harbecke, Rock Tech Lithium’s Chairman of the Board in a recent interview.
“But in early 2019, when we saw that Europe was on its way to […] fully bet on e-mobility, especially with the German and French governments which had set up new programmes for subsidies and Mr. Diess, the CEO of Volkswagen (OTC: VWAGY), who is fully committed together with the whole Volkswagen group to go in e-mobility, it was clear for us that it is not sufficient to only produce a concentrate and sell it to China because we want the western world to be independent from the Chinese supply,” continued Harbecke.
The increased demand for batteries led to an increase in lithium price by over 50 percent since December 2020, and the prices will continue to increase because the production cannot keep up with the demand.
“In my view, we are still only at the beginning. Keep in mind that up to last year everything – share prices, the lithium price – everything was falling. And what we see now, since January this year, is that most of the shares are increasing. There was already a big jump in January and February this year, and the last two months have been a bit more quiet. But now, we will see the next spikes in the price of lithium and the price of lithium shares when we will see the first shortages of lithium.” said Mr. Harbecke.
Europe is predicted to have a third of the global lithium production by 2030 from just 7 percent in 2020. Maros Sefcovic, the vice-president of the European Commission that coordinates the European Battery Alliance, estimated that the investments in European batteries totalled 60 billion Euros in 2019 alone.
Prospective manufacturers are investing in lithium facilities in Germany, France, the U.K., Sweden, and Poland in a competition to satisfy the increasing demand for batteries.
By building its own conversion plant in Germany, Rock Tech Lithium plans to become a fully integrated manufacturer of battery-grade lithium hydroxide and a major player in the European green and clean-tech industry.
The company partnered with one of the leading German construction and recycling groups to ensure sustainable production and recycling processes for all the materials used by its converter.
Rock Tech Lithium’s converter is planned to start production in 2023. It has a production capacity of approximately 24,000 tons of lithium hydroxide per year, which is large enough to fuel around 500,000 electric cars.
The converter’s production will help European electric car producers become less dependent of Chinese lithium.
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