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Sibanye-Stillwater approves the development of second phase of Keliber lithium project

South Africa-based Sibanye-Stillwater approved the commencement of the second phase of its Keliber lithium project which includes the construction of the concentrator and the development of the Syväjärvi open pit mine in Päiväneva in Finland. (Earlier post.) Delivery of ore from the Syväjärvi open pit mine will be timed to coincide with the commissioning of the concentrator.

The environmental permit for phase two was received in December 2022, which enables the development to continue. The appeal lodged by Sibanye-Stillwater, querying the terms of six of the 144 permitting conditions (refer) will continue in parallel with the construction. Due to the nature of the appeal, the permission to commence construction has not been withdrawn.

Higher capital expenditures have been planned to meet the more stringent effluent water quality conditions. The capital expenditure for the concentrator is now forecasted at €230 million—€10 million higher than the previous estimate. This increase is due to the revision of the effluent water treatment facility at the Keliber lithium refinery.

Despite the higher capital requirements, the adjustment has not had a negative impact on the net present value of the project due to the positive impact of the expected recoveries.

The updated aggregated project capital for the Keliber project is estimated at €656 million (2023 real terms) including contingencies (previously €588 million in 2022 real terms).

The equity funding for the project has already been secured and completed, while the finalization of the debt funding is in progress.

We are pleased to be commencing construction of the lithium concentrator and Syväjärvi mine. The Keliber lithium project remains on track to be the first integrated lithium hydroxide supplier in Europe.

—Neal Froneman CEO of Sibanye-Stillwater

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.

The shareholders of Keliber Oy are Sibanye-Stillwater (ca. 79%), the Finnish Minerals Group (20%), a state-owned company tasked with developing a lithium-ion battery value chain, and a group of Finnish shareholders (ca. 1%).


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