Sibanye-Stillwater enters battery materials fray with investment in Finnish lithium developer Keliber

by Margaret Lau
Updated feasibility study planned at Keliber’s advanced lithium project. Photo: Keliber
South African mining group Sibanye-Stillwater said today it was entering the battery materials supply sector by investing in Finnish lithium developer Keliber Oy.

The move follows Finland’s publication of a National Battery Strategy which, as World Battery News reported last month, set out a blueprint to become a key player in Europe’s electric vehicle batteries and materials supply chain.

Sibanye will make an initial phased equity investment of €30m (£25.8m) for a 30% stake in Keliber and will offer a further €10m to existing Keliber shareholders.

Sibanye also has an option to acquire a majority stake in Keliber – whose current largest single shareholder is the state-owned Finnish Minerals Group (26.3%) – following an updated feasibility study of Keliber’s advanced lithium project, in Finland’s western Kaustinen region.

'EV growth forecast'

The project has 9.3m tonnes of ore reserves, sufficient for more than 13 years of operation, based on a feasibility study completed in 2019 and improved in 2020.

Planned annual production is 15,000 tonnes of battery-grade lithium hydroxide and production is anticipated to start in 2024. The project includes the development of a plant in Kokkola, about 50km from the mining area, which will produce battery-grade lithium hydroxide.

Sibanye CEO Neal Froneman said: "In line with our strategic objective of entering the battery metals industry, lithium is viewed as one of the core metals to benefit from the significant growth forecast for the electric vehicle sector.”

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