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16/04/2024
Mining News

Rock Tech and BMI Group forge partnership for Ontario’s first lithium converter

Rock Tech Lithium Inc. (Rock Tech) and the BMI Group (BMI) have recently finalized a Cooperation Agreement, marking a significant step towards a long-term lease agreement for the establishment of Ontario’s first Lithium Converter. The chosen site for this groundbreaking venture is the Red Rock site, following a meticulous site-assessment process. As part of this collaboration, BMI has committed to a substantial investment of CAD 5.5 million in the project.

Opting for the former Norampac Paper Mill site in Red Rock, Rock Tech aims to pioneer the development of Ontario’s inaugural Lithium Converter. Situated about 110 km northeast of Thunder Bay, along the Trans-Canada Highway 17, on the north shore of Lake Superior, the township of Red Rock provides an ideal location. Rock Tech’s 100% owned Georgia Lake mining project is approximately 60 km north of Red Rock.

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Beginning early in 2023, Rock Tech embarked on an exhaustive site selection process, evaluating several green and brown-field sites across Ontario and the Northern United States. Leveraging their extensive expertise from developing Europe’s first Lithium Converter in Germany, the company executed a successful selection process in Canada. Since 2021, Rock Tech has invested over 350,000 engineering hours and CAD 60 million in developing the Guben Lithium Converter in Germany.

With BMI actively developing multimodal road and rail logistics capabilities in the port of Red Rock, the location strategically positions itself as a prime lithium refining destination in Northern Ontario. The Red Rock Converter, equipped to process lithium from third-party mining projects, is poised to unlock the potential of Northern Ontario’s burgeoning lithium mining sector.

Kerstin Wedemann, Rock Tech’s Chief Legal & Operations Officer, notes, “This is a fundamental milestone for our North American Lithium refinery plans.” She emphasizes the complexity of Lithium Converters as large value-added production facilities, requiring substantial infrastructure and supporting factors. The site selection process considered more than 150 criteria, concluding that Red Rock is the optimal location for this significant project.

The specific terms and conditions of the lease and investment agreements are slated for negotiation in the coming weeks and are subject to the outcome of customary due diligence processes.

Rock Tech’s CEO, Dirk Harbecke, underscores the importance of strong partnerships and community benefits, emphasizing a decade-long commitment to developing relationships with Indigenous partners in the area. Harbecke states, “With our decision to build our first Ontario Lithium Converter in Red Rock, we are proud to honor their request to refine where we mine.” The Red Rock community eagerly anticipates the return of a large industrial project, aligning with BMI’s vision of sustainable economic development in Northern Ontario.

Paul Veldman, CEO of the BMI Group, highlights their efforts in making Red Rock industry-ready through collaborations with the Red Rock Indian Band, the town of Red Rock, Iron and Oak Railroad Services, and Hydro One. Veldman expresses excitement about the pivotal partnership with Rock Tech, envisioning a new future for the Red Rock community. Together, the companies aim to fortify Ontario’s Critical Mineral Corridor, establishing a robust, made-in-Ontario lithium supply chain crucial for the province’s growing automotive and battery manufacturing potential. Veldman announces plans to discuss the Port of Red Rock, Rock Tech’s Lithium Converter capabilities, and the Critical Mineral Corridor strategic supply chain at PDAC 2024 in meetings with industry partners.

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