Keliber is a Finnish mining and battery chemical company that aims to start the sustainable production of battery-grade lithium hydroxide, utilizing its own ore, in 2024. (Earlier post.) The Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (Tukes) has now granted a mining safety permit for Keliber’s second largest deposit, Syväjärvi. The permit, which was granted on 13 October 2021, includes immediate execution despite eventual appeals. The permit is not yet legally valid.
Keliber is starting preparatory work at Syväjärvi, including activities such as the removal of overburden, building sedimentation basins and a wetland for overland flow, as well as the construction of roads.
Now that Keliber has been granted the mining safety permit, the mining of wall rock can begin. This will be utilized both as crushed rock and aggregate in building infrastructure, such as the basin structures and foundations and surfaces for roads.
Syväjärvi’s wall rock works very well as material for building infrastructure. Utilizing wall rock as utility material for the future mine is both cost-effective and environmentally friendly as the stone supply is nearby. Material efficiency, which is part of the circular economy, has been a part of our operations from the very beginning.—Hannu Hautala, CEO of Keliber
The construction phase at Syväjärvi will last for about two years, during which time about one million tonnes of wall rock will be mined. The rock material will be utilized also in the construction of the Päiväneva concentrator area.
Lithium ore production is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2024 and continue for about four years. After that, mining will continue at the Rapasaari mine in the Päiväneva area, and the Syväjärvi mine will be rehabilitated in accordance with a separate plan and the provisions of the environmental permit.
The production process consists of mining, a concentration process, heat treatment and hydrometallurgical process. The entire process chain from mining ore to producing battery-grade lithium hydroxide is managed by Keliber, which enables optimizing the amount of ore to be mined and enriched.
Ore mining is carried out as open pit mining and underground mining. Most mining operations take place in open pit mines. The ore in Keliber’s deposits is high-grade lithium ore with spodumene as the ore mineral.
In the enrichment process, the ore is crushed and milled. Milling is followed by the flotation process. The flotation concentrate formed in the process is spodumene concentrate. Then, the spodumene concentrate will be transferred to the lithium chemical plant for further processing.
The lithium chemical plant is located in the Kokkola Industrial Park (KIP). At the chemical plant, the crystal structure of the spodumene concentrate is converted into β-spodumene in a high temperature and processed further into lithium hydroxide in a hydrometallurgical process.
The production process of the chemical plant was developed in collaboration with Outotec. The process is based on soda leaching, which helps minimize the environmental effects of production, as, for example, production side streams can be efficiently utilized.