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REFILE-Rock Tech Lithium to start building German facility in April

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BERLIN, Dec 22 (Reuters) - Canada’s Rock Tech Lithium aims to start construction of its first European lithium converter and refinery in Germany in April, its chief executive said.

Talks on subsidies for the plant are still ongoing, Dirk Harbecke told Reuters on Wednesday.

The company had said in October that it planned to build a converter plant in the eastern German town of Guben, a roughly 90-minute drive from where Tesla is building its gigafactory, which includes a battery cell manufacturing site with 50 gigawatt hours of capacity.

Rock Tech Lithium plans to invest up to 470 million euros ($531 million) in the site, which is to start production in 2024 and will eventually make 24,000 metric tons of lithium hydroxide a year, enough to supply 500,000 cars with lithium-ion batteries.

Of that planned investment, Harbecke expects Rock Tech Lithium to raise around 150 million euros itself. The company said earlier this week it aimed to raise up to around $40 million in a private placement with U.S. and international investors.

Several carmakers and battery cell players, including Volkswagen and China’s CATL, as well as Tesla, are expanding production campacity in Europe’s top economy as they bank on an expected mass roll-out of electric vehicles.

“We are in talks with all big players, carmakers as well as cathode producers,” Harbecke said when asked about potential customers for the Guben facility.

$1 = 0.8849 euros Reporting by Nadine Schimroszik; Writing by Maria Sheahan; Editing by David Holmes