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Keliber lithium hydroxide project, Finland – update

Orevfrom the Keliber lithium project

Photo by Sibanye-Stillwater

10th November 2023

By: Sheila Barradas

Creamer Media Research Coordinator & Senior Deputy Editor

     

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Name of the Project
Keliber lithium hydroxide project.

Location
Central Ostrobothnia, Finland.

Project Owner/s
Sibanye-Stillwater owns about 79% of the Keliber project, while the Finnish State-owned Finnish Minerals Group owns 20%.

Project Description
The project will include the Kokkola refinery at the Kokkola Industrial Park (KIP).

The project comprises four initial opencast and three underground, highly mechanised mining operations – Syväjärvi and Rapasaari, with Emmes, Outovesi, and Länttä situated across the municipalities of Kaustinen, Kokkola and Kronoby respectively.

The mining operations will supply ore to the Päiväneva concentrator, which will be situated close to the Rapasaari mine. Concentrate produced at the Päiväneva concentrator is planned to be trucked about 66 km to the Kokkola refinery, which is forecast to produce about 15 000 t/y of battery-grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate.

Openpit and underground ore reserves of 12.7-million tonnes (0.92% lithium oxide), and mineral resources of 17-million tonnes (1.02% lithium oxide) support an estimated life-of-mine of 16 years at a forecast average milling rate of about 800 000 t/y.

Potential Job Creation
Recruitments have gone according to plan, with a headcount of 67 at the end of the quarter ended September 30, 2023, with the potential to increase the team by more than 20 professionals by year-end. Overall headcount is planned to increase to 200 by the end of 2024.

Net Present Value/Internal Rate of Return
The updated definitive feasibility study (DFS) has estimated a pretax net present value (NPV), at an 8% discount rate, of €510-million, compared with the €295-million estimated in the 2018 DFS.

The pretax internal rate of return has also increased from 24% in the 2018 DFS to 28% in the 2019 updated DFS.

The payback period for the project has decreased from 5.5 years to 3.7 years.

Capital Expenditure
Capital expenditure (capex) for the refinery is estimated at €418-million.

Planned Start/End Date
The project is estimated at €656-million (2023 real terms), previously €588-million (2022 real terms), of which the refinery’s capital cost is €418-million.

Latest Developments
On October 6, 2023, Sibanye-Stillwater announced board approval for the construction of the concentrator and the development of the Syväjärvi openpit mine, in Päiväneva, Sibanye reports in its operating update for the third quarter ended September 30, 2023.

Delivery of ore from the mine will be timed to coincide with the commissioning of the concentrator.

Higher capex will now be incurred to meet the environmental permit requirements.

Capex for the concentrator is now forecast at €23-million – €10-million more than the previous estimate.

In addition, capex for the Keliber lithium refinery increased by €59-million to €418-million, owing to changes to the effluent water treatment process at the refinery. The amended technology was added to the flowsheet to ensure compliance with environmental permits, which will also result in increased recoveries.

Despite the higher capital requirements, the adjustment has not had a negative impact on the NPV of the project, owing to the positive impact of the expected recoveries.

In the September quarter, 28 diamond drill holes totalling 5 407 m were completed at the Rapasaari, Syväjärvi and Leviäkangas East target areas using two drill rigs. The best assayed intercepts are all associated with the Tuoreetsaaret deposit, including 86.35 m at 1.08 % lithium oxide.

The update of the mineral resources estimate continued in the third quarter. The mineral resource estimates of seven deposits – Syväjärvi, Rapasaari, Länttä, Outovesi, Emmes, Tuoreetsaaret and Leviäkangas – will be updated, and the final results are expected in 2024.

As a part of regional lithium exploration, seasonal boulder mapping and till sampling continued in the third quarter of 2023.

Debt funding for the balance of the project is advancing, with the target facility increased from €300-million to €500-million.

Project capex for 2023 is lower than initially expected, with the delta of capex moving to 2024 because of the later-than-estimated start of the concentrator during 2023.

Key Contracts, Suppliers and Consultants
Metso Outotec (sustainable soda pressure leaching technology).

Contact Details for Project Information
Keliber Oy, tel +358 10 567 0600 or email info@keliber.fi.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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