SolarWorld creates JV for its lithium mining project in Germany

SolarWorld, the German solar manufacturer, will sell a 50% share of its lithium mining operations in eastern Germany to Bacanora Minerals to create a new joint venture (JV) that will be 100% focused on extracting lithium from mines in the region.

Deutsche Lithium GmbH will be operationally controlled by both SolarWorld and Bacanora Minerals, which is a resource developer that specializes in lithium mined from Mexico’s Sonora region. Bacanora Minerals has paid approximately €5 million for its share in the JV, and will earn its share of the project in return for a cash consideration of $5.29 million.

The JV will be located at SolarWorld’s Freiberg production site in Saxony, with Bacanora Minerals responsible for all financial investments for the project, which is an 18 to 24 months feasibility study exploring lithium mining in the Ore Mountains in Altenberg-Zinnwald, close to the German-Czech border.

The site is believed to be home to one of the largest deposits of lithium in Europe, and SolarWorld CEO Frank Asbeck has reiterated his desire to pair storage with solar to drive forward the adoption of smart energy and control systems globally.

“Lithium is a key raw material of storage systems,” said Asbeck. “Being able to store and consume renewable energies 24/7 will give solar power another enormous boost.

“Initiating lithium mining in the Ore Mountains [a task SolarWorld first embarked upon in 2011] has paid off. After we have taken the first steps, our partner’s know-how and financial menas will now move this project forward. This will have a lot of positive effects for the region. SolarWorld will continue to focus on manufacturing high-quality solar power products that can be combined with storage systems and smart control applications.”

Bacanora Minerals chairman Mark Hohnen added that the site is a strategic asset located in close proximity to a thriving market for lithium and energy products.

Bacanora Minerals has the option to fully acquire Deutsche Lithium GmbH within a 24-month period for an investment in the mid double-digit million euro range, SolarWorld added.

SolarWorld unveiled its SunPac LiOn battery – a lithium-ion storage system – last year in anticipation of growth in a number of distributed storage markets globally. The firm also partnered in the U.S. with fellow German company sonnen, which specializes in battery hardware and software development.