Rock Tech provides an Update on its Business Activities
Vancouver, BC, Canada – July 23, 2020 – Rock Tech Lithium Inc. (the "Company" or “Rock Tech”) (TSX-V: RCK; Frankfurt: RJIB) is pleased to provide a general update on its business activities and future plans.
Rock Tech’s Business Focus
With the forecasted growth in battery cell production it is Rock Tech’s view that there will be a substantial demand increase for lithium in the upcoming years. It will significantly outpace available supply capacities as producers and developers will not be able to react quickly enough after several years of depressed markets have caused them to suspend their expansion and exploration activities. Therefore, rising spodumene prices are very likely once this supply gap becomes apparent to the market and prices are expected to remain high for several years.
It is therefore our clear intention to bring the Georgia Lake spodumene project into production to benefit from the expected market trend.
What has been overlooked by many market participants is a looming shortage of lithium conversion capacity for lithium hydroxide, a precursor for high quality battery cells. We think that this shortage will even be more pronounced than the one for spodumene and will put the western car manufacturers in quite an uncomfortable supply dependency on an oligopoly, mainly dominated by Chinese firms.
Right now, almost the entire planet’s lithium hydroxide conversion capacity is in China. There are only two converters with meaningful capacity under construction outside of China, Kwinana and Kemerton which are both located in Australia. However, they are owned by the Chinese firm Tianqi (Kwinana) and American company Albemarle (Kemerton), two dominating market players with a strong negotiation position against their offtakers.
Despite being two of the most important car manufacturing regions in the world, there is no single producing converter in North America or Europe. Rock Tech has therefore decided to fill this gap by pursuing a path of setting up conversion capacity under its own control and becoming a sustainable, non-Chinese source of lithium hydroxide for the western battery producers. This is a unique opportunity to generate high margins in a strongly growing market.
“Going forward Rock Tech will pursue the converter project in parallel with the development of Georgia Lake. For this project we will shortly commence trade-off studies to determine the ideal plant location and setup. Depending on the study outcome and the planned pre-feasibility work we will amend Rock Tech’s team to appropriately reflect the required skill set for this task,” says Simon Bodensteiner, CEO of Rock Tech Lithium.
The project in Northwest Ontario will play an integral role in providing feedstock to the envisaged converter. It is intended that around half of the spodumene will come from Georgia Lake. Rock Tech remains committed to carry out all necessary work to advance the project towards Pre-Feasibility level, followed by a Feasibility Study with a production decision.
Over the coming months we will continue our baseline studies (e.g. fisheries assessment, ground water and surface water monitoring, geochemical rock characterization, etc.) which will be essential for the permitting process.
In addition, we anticipate commencing the formal permitting process before year end. Since the planned daily production capacity will be below 5,000 tonnes, an impact assessment may not be required under the federal Impact Assessment Act which will significantly shorten and simplify the permitting process.
Further, Rock Tech will step up its metallurgical testwork programme on the Main Zone orebody of the Georgia Lake deposit with the aim to increase the confidence level of the PEA assumptions, optimize the flowsheet and identify efficiency gains and cost saving opportunities.
Lithium Hydroxide Converter
The envisaged annual output of the converter is 24,000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide-monohydrate. This plant size is comparable to most existing converters and presents technically the upper limit of some key plant components. It therefore combines the largest industry-proven technology with the lowest cost on a per-unit basis due to its economies of scale.
Approximately 50% of the required spodumene feedstock could be supplied from Georgia Lake with the remaining balance to be sourced from third parties to diversify and lower supply risks. Rock Tech intends to take advantage of the current low-cost environment to secure attractive supply contracts whilst considering Georgia Lake as a secure source of feedstock.
One of Rock Tech’s main competitive advantages, apart from the Georgia Lake deposit, is the superior access to the German investor community, automotive industry and political decision makers. We are assessing different locations for the envisaged chemical plant which will convert spodumene concentrate into lithium hydroxide. Whilst a fully integrated plant in the vicinity of Georgia Lake (e.g. Thunder Bay) may be technically the most favorable option, factors such as subsidies and the proximity to offtakers may make a plant location in Europe more attractive. It may further be possible to produce a precursor material in North America and complete the final refining step in Europe.
Rock Tech will start a Trade-Off study in due course to determine the most favorable plant location as well as configuration and assess its associated risks and opportunities. This work is anticipated to be complete within the quarter so that a Pre-Feasibility Study can commence immediately following the Board decision on the preferred option. The Pre-Feasibility Study is likely going to take nine months.
With the broadened company focus, Rock Tech intends to strengthen its advisory and management team to adequately address the need for additional skill sets in the area of chemical plant design as well as study and project management. We intend to take advantage of the currently depressed market condition in order to attract high-caliber personnel.
On behalf of the Board of Directors,
Director, Chief Executive Officer
For further information, please contact:
Chief Financial Officer
Rock Tech Lithium Inc.
777 Hornby Street, Suite 600
Vancouver, B.C., V6Z 1S4
Telephone: (778) 358-5200
Facsimile: (604) 670-0033
Neither TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.
Statements included in this announcement, including statements concerning our plans, intentions and expectations, which are not historical in nature are intended to be, and are hereby identified as, "forward‐looking statements". Forward‐looking statements may be identified by words including "anticipates", "believes", "intends", "estimates", "expects" and similar expressions. The Company cautions readers that forward‐looking statements, including without limitation those relating to the Company's future operations and business prospects, are subject to certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated in the forward‐looking statements.