In February 2021, Sibanye-Stillwater announced its much anticipated entry into the battery metal space with the purchase of a 30% stake in Keliber Oy (Keliber), a Finnish mining and chemical company with an aim of producing battery grade lithium hydroxide for the needs of the growing international lithium market.
Keliber’s lithium deposits are located in Kaustinen, Kokkola and Kruunupyy municipalities in Finland, which are among the most significant lithium-bearing areas in Europe. As at 31 August 2021, Keliber’s total proved and probable ore reserves are 12.30 (9.37) million tonnes at an average grade of 0.94 (0.98)% Li₂O, using a cut-off grade of 0.40% Li₂O for the open pit ore reserves and a cut-off grade of 0.40–0.70% Li₂O for the underground ore reserves. Based on assessments by the Geological Survey of Finland, there are good indications of further ore potential in the region.
The planned operations include lithium mines and the concentrator plant in Kaustinen, Kokkola and Kruunupyy, Finland, and a lithium hydroxide plant in Kokkola. The production process of Keliber enables the most efficient use of natural resources and minimal environmental impacts. The production process is also forecast as one of the most cost-effective worldwide. The planned annual production is 15,000 tonnes of battery grade lithium hydroxide.
Keliber and Sibanye-Stillwater have signed an investment agreement on bridge financing of €40 million. This agreement enables Keliber to significantly advance its lithium project in Central Ostrobothnia, Finland. Keliber aims to start production in 2024.