Sibanye-Stillwater takes stake in Finland’s Keliber lithium project to 85% after buying minority shares

SIBANYE-Stillwater said it had taken its stake in the Keliber lithium project to about 85% as it announced on June 30 it intended to do.

The project, recently described as “a beaut” by Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman, is situated in Finland and aims to produce lithium supplying the European battery market. Said Froneman today: “We look forward to partnering with our Finnish stakeholders in the project to advance its permitting and development enabling delivery of high quality, low-cost lithium hydroxide with a low carbon footprint into the growing European battery industry”.

As per its previous announcement, Sibanye-Stillwater exercised an option to take control of the project and then extended its offer to minorities. The next step is for the Finnish government via its Finnish Minerals Group (FMG) to rebalance the shareholding. In terms of this, FMG will take a 20% stake to Sibanye-Stillwater’s 80% holding by means of a joint capital raising effort.

In getting to its current stake, Sibanye-Stillwater will have spent €196m. It will then make a further equity contribution of €104m as per the capital raise taking its total investment share of the €446m investment to €250m.

The Keliber project has an effective date for completion of February 13, 2023.

The project is scoped to supply about 15,000 tons a year of lithium hydroxide which is used in the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles.

Finland has declared its intention to become a supplier of lithium to the lithium-ion battery market in Europe. The country’s preponderance of hydropower means its product commands a green premium.

Analysts believe the globe is heavily under-invested in so-called ‘precursor minerals’ – processed products that can be directly supplied to electric car manufacturers. As a result, prices for key metals have undergone an extraordinary appreciation in the past 12 to 24 months as the scope of the under-investment is becoming clear.