Rock Tech Lithium Guben refinery secures spodumene feedstock from C&D Logistics

Jun. 5, 2024

180 ktpa spodumene

Rock Tech Lithium has signed a feedstock supply agreement with C&D Logistics (Qingdao) to fulfill the supply of spodumene concentrate to its Guben converter in Germany.

The agreement covers the first five years of operation, which is set to commence in 2025. Specific sources are unknown, however the Qingdao based outfit has “relationships with existing spodumene producers in Australia, Africa and Brazil”.

Guben will be Europe’s first merchant lithium refinery. The converter’s nameplate capacity is 24 ktpa LiOH.H2O which will require up to 180 ktpa of spodumene concentrate.

Adamas take:

The agreement highlights how underserved Europe is for lithium concentrates at present, despite known spodumene pegmatite deposits in Ireland, Sweden and Finland. Given this context, the outsourcing of supply to a Chinese logistics and trading firm is understandable.

The specific sources of spodumene that will feed Guben’s first five years of operation is unknown, but if guided by C&D Logistics existing relationships in Brazil, Africa and Australia, the sources will be quite distant from Germany, adding to the cost & ESG profile of the hydroxide product.

Despite Australia’s reliable output of marketable spodumene concentrate, it is 18,000 km away via Suez Canal, twice as far as Brazil’s Vitoria port. Much of Africa’s SC mines are captive into Chinese converters which leaves a few small scale and often land-locked Brazilian/African producers to make up the 180 ktpa SC.

As an aside, Europe’s quandary for spodumene concentrate supply builds the case for Australian miners to process and ship Li2SO4/Li3PO4 intermediates. This increases lithium content in transport by 4.5-6x when compared to SC6, improving the marketability of this supply base to Europe.

On this front, Tees Valley Lithium is assessing a merchant facility in Western Australia to upgrade SC and ship it to their UK refineries, while Pilbara Minerals is developing an electric calciner with technology partner CALIX, beginning with a 27 ktpa SC throughput demonstration plant.

 

[Extract from the May issue of the EV Battery Lithium Monthly service.]

 

Image from Rock Tech Lithium


 

Chris Williams, Analyst at Adamas Intelligence

Chris is an Analyst at Adamas Intelligence focused on the global lithium industry. He researches and analyzes the lithium value chain to uncover actionable opportunities for clients.

Chris has 11-years experience in mining and oil & gas operations optimization, delivering value from data intensive insight generation. He completed his Bachelor and Masters of Engineering at the University of Queensland, majoring in Mechanical Engineering, and is currently completing a Masters of Business Administration at the University of British Columbia.

 


 

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