Mercedes-Benz wants to become fully electric by the end of the decade. From 2025 onwards the luxury carmaker plans that all newly launched vehicle architectures will be all electric. To help make this a reality, Mercedes-Benz intends to enter a strategic partnership with Rock Tech, lasting for at least five years and an option to prolong.
From 2026 onwards, it is envisaged that Rock Tech contributes up to 10,000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide annually to Mercedes-Benz and its battery partners, starting with a qualification period and after quality and sustainability benchmarks have been met. This battery-grade lithium product is an essential component of high-performance vehicle batteries. The Canadian-German Rock Tech expects to become a central implementation partner for the automaker and its all electric and carbon neutral strategies.
With the envisaged strategic partnership, both companies aim to ensure that the amount of battery-grade lithium meets Mercedes-Benz’s growing demand in order to scale up electric vehicle production. Rock Tech is currently developing its first converter project in Guben, eastern Germany. So far, no other refinery of its kind exists in Europe. Rock Tech aims to close this gap in supply of lithium and to make regional supply chains more resilient by refining spodumene into high quality lithium hydroxide at this converter by the end of 2024. This would create a short supply chain in Mercedes-Benz’s origin and is expected to further strengthen the partnership.
“With the envisaged agreement, we intend to provide Mercedes-Benz not only with high-quality lithium hydroxide, but also to establish a strategic partnership that is expected to set new standards in sustainable supply chains. We are very pleased to have found a partner that intends to take important steps with us towards a more resilient and sustainable lithium supply chain to deliver an important part of their strategy and of the e-mobility transformation”, says Markus Bruegmann, Chief Executive Officer of Rock Tech Lithium.
“Mercedes-Benz plans to go all electric by the end of this decade, wherever market conditions allow. To scale up our electric vehicle production, access to raw materials is needed to improve the resilience and sustainability of the electric vehicle supply chain. With the Rock Tech partnership we intend to take a direct sourcing approach to secure the lithium supply for Mercedes-Benz battery production”, says Markus Schaefer, Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG, Chief Technology Officer, responsible for Research & Development and Procurement.
Additionally, Rock Tech also intends to operate its own mine in Georgia Lake, Canada, to contribute to wider and growing lithium demand in the northern hemisphere. With the emergence of new sources of raw materials within the G7 community, Canada in particular is becoming increasingly important for resilient supply chains. Rock Tech exemplifies how cooperation between Canada and Germany can be realized. This is one of the reasons why Mercedes-Benz and Rock Tech announced the envisaged partnership during a business delegation’s trip to Canada on Tuesday in Toronto, with reference to Memorandum of Understanding entered into by Mercedes-Benz and the Government of Canada to strengthen cooperation across the electric vehicle value chain.
A shared understanding and focus on reliability, resilience, and sustainability in the supply chains in Europe and North America creates a strong basis for the planned strategic partnership between Rock Tech and Mercedes-Benz. Rock Tech’s sourcing options and its own mining project in Canada are expected to meet or exceed the standards of the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurances (IRMA), whose criteria includes both human rights aspects and the environmentally sustainable mining of raw materials, among others. In addition, Rock Tech is investigating new methods and technologies aimed at the carbon neutral industrial production of lithium hydroxide and new zero waste production methods.