Rock Tech & BMI Group Red Rock join to process lithium

The partnership will conduct a site analysis to transform the former Norampac Paper Mill site in Red Rock into a key component of Ontario's EV supply chain

A Memorandum of Understanding outlining the next steps was signed on November 3 at the site in the presence of Mayor Darquise Robinson, community members, and business partners. Rock Tech's Georgia Lake Mining Project is located along Highway 11, an hour north of Red Rock.

As the closest site to production with critical infrastructure components, inclusive of rail, industrial power, and the pending development of the northernmost port on the Great Lakes, the location can be well positioned for an intermodal transloading facility and potentially Rock Tech's planned lithium refinery.

At the event, Rock Tech CEO Dirk Harbecke expressed enthusiasm for co-operating. "This partnership truly embodies what we believe is vital: diligent assessment, local and Indigenous community engagement, and strong networks. This is not just a refinery, it is about developing a new industry, ensuring chemical supply, green energy, offtake of battery-grade lithium, and zero-waste management.

Capacity, capability and people

"We have invested over 350,000 engineering hours, completed the front-end engineering and design, and established the necessary industrial and procurement network through our existing Guben Converter project. These efforts lay the groundwork for a shovel-ready opportunity for Ontario. To realise the potential of it, we need strong and capable partners."

Paul Veldman, Managing Partner at the BMI Group added. "By combining our industrial development and infrastructure experience, most notably from our Niagara Ports project, with Rock Tech's technical expertise, we are fully supporting the exploration of a viable pathway for lithium processing and intermodal transport in Red Rock and the Province as a whole. The mill was shuttered in 2006, and with it, about 300 jobs.

"This collaboration represents a significant step towards not only meeting the demand for critical battery components but also bringing back some of those jobs."

"We have the capacity, our people have the capability, and we want to make them shine. We want to give people a good life," said Red Rock Indian Band Chief Marcus Hardy. "'Refine where you mine' is not just a motto for us; it's an opportunity to create new jobs that contribute to the future of the mining industry. Coupled with the development of the northernmost port on the Great Lakes and its ability to take transport pressure off our Northern highways, you have a win-win opportunity worth investing in."

Rock Tech previously stated that its Canadian lithium converter will be located in Ontario. Its engineering design of the Guben Converter will be applied to its Canadian counterpart, positioning the company to begin construction as early as 2025, pending permits and further partnership arrangements. Rock Tech has completed a series of test works to ensure that the refinery can process spodumene from various sources and is adaptable to the region's rapidly growing lithium industry.

The former pulp and paper mill area on the Township of Red Rock's waterfront, and the strategic collaboration have the potential to significantly contribute to the development of a competitive Provincial EV supply chain, creating upwards direct new jobs and fostering positive social impact and economic growth.

BMI Group-Red Rock Indian Band JV

Rock Tech is a cleantech company with operations in Canada and Germany on a mission to produce lithium hydroxide for electric vehicle batteries. The company plans to build lithium converters at the door-step of its customers, to guarantee supply-chain transparency and just-in-time delivery, beginning with the company's proposed lithium hydroxide merchant converter and refinery facility in Guben, Germany.

To close the most pressing gap in the clean mobility story, Rock Tech has gathered one of the strongest teams in the industry. It has adopted strict environmental, social and governance standards and is developing a proprietary refining process aimed at further increasing efficiency and sustainability. Rock Tech plans to source raw material from its wholly-owned Georgia Lake spodumene project located in the Thunder Bay Mining District of Ontario, Canada, as well as procuring it from other responsibly producing mines.

In the years to come, the company expects to also source raw material from discarded batteries. Rock Tech's goal: to create a closed-loop lithium production system.

BMI Group is a real estate development and revitalisation company specialising in the adaptive reuse and repurposing of end-of-use industrial and commercial properties and their transition from linear to circular economies. The Red Rock Indian Band (RRIB) is an Ojibwe First Nation in North-western Ontario, Canada. The Council is an independent member of Union of Ontario Indians, a Provincial Territorial Organisation.

The former mill site is being developed in partnership with RRIB as a catalyst for the town of Red Rock and the greater Nipigon region. Aligned with the core themes of the Township's Community Development Strategy, the Mill Redevelopment Concept Plan (2022) outlines BMI's aspirations for the future of the former mill site and its conceptual redevelopment, inclusive of its evolution to integrate future opportunities, investment, and business interest.

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