PROCESSING

Sibanye-Stillwater lays foundation stone for Keliber lithium plant

South African miner Sibanye-Stillwater held a ceremony at the Kokkola Industrial Park (KIP) in Finland on Wednesday to lay the foundation stone of the Keliber lithium refinery.

 An artists rendition of the planned plant

An artists rendition of the planned plant

The company said the laying of the foundation stone marks the ceremonial launch of the Keliber lithium project, which is expected to supply the first integrated, regionally produced lithium into the European green energy ecosystem.

Earthworks for the Keliber lithium refinery began on March 7, 2023.

Sibanye-Stillwater currently owns approximately 79% of the Keliber project, while the Finnish Minerals Group, which manages the Finnish State's mining industry shareholdings, owns 20%.

The company expects €231 million (US$252 million) of the €588 million estimated total capital expenditure for the Keliber lithium project (excluding sustaining capital) to be spent this year.  

Neal Froneman, chief executive of Sibanye-Stillwater, said, "It is central to Sibanye-Stillwater's business ethos to create superior shared value for all our stakeholders. In addition to delivering critical green metals into the European ecosystem, the Keliber lithium project is expected to provide employment for over 300 people over its current expected life of 16 years. The project will also create new opportunities for local suppliers of goods and services and is acknowledged as a significant contributor to the future growth of the local economy."

According to previous reports, the anticipated production will be 15,000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide monohydrate. Keliber will source spodumene concentrate from outside suppliers at first. Once the concentrator plant is commissioned, the company will produce spodumene concentrate from its own ore.

Sibanye-Stillwater initially increased its stake in Finnish mining and battery chemical company Keliber from 30.29% to 85.96% last October, but then in April Finnish Minerals Group re-raised its stake in the Keliber lithium project in Finland to 20%.
 
Keliber owns several advanced lithium deposits, covering an area of more than 500km² in Central Ostrobothnia, in western Finland on the Gulf of Bothnia. The lithium deposits of Central Ostrobothnia, first identified in the late 1950s, are among the most significant in Europe.

 

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