- Both battery metals and PGMs essential to achieving a “greener” future
- Sibanye will make an initial phased equity investment of 30m euros
South African miner, Sibanye Stillwater has entered into the battery metals sector through a partnership with and investment into Keliber, a leading European lithium company.
Sibanye holds joint ownership in Zimbabwe-based Mimosa Gold Mine with its South African peer, Impala Platinum (Implats) Holdings whose stronghold on the Zimbabwe mining sector extends to Zimplats
According to the company’s statement, the transaction is expected to be implemented in March 2021, subject to approval by the South African Reserve Bank. This is a strategic step given the increasing significance of battery metals and PGMs towards achieving a greener future.
Sibanye said it will make an initial phased equity investment of 30 million euros ($36.49 million) for a 30% stake in Keliber and will offer a further 10 million euros to the existing Keliber shareholders.
Keliber’s wholly-owned, advanced lithium project, the Keliber project, is located in the Kaustinen region of Finland, one of the most significant lithium-bearing areas in Europe. Finland represents an attractive low-risk mining jurisdiction (top five jurisdictions in the Fraser Institute) and has developed a National Battery Strategy that outlines the objectives for the country to become a competitive, competent, and sustainable player in the international battery industry. Europe is rapidly becoming a leading hub for the manufacture of batteries for electric vehicles and Keliber’s location in Finland enables efficient transport of lithium hydroxide to European customers.
The Keliber project consists of several advanced-stage lithium spodumene deposits, with significant exploration upside in close proximity to the existing project. Based on a feasibility study completed in 2019 and improved in 2020, Keliber currently has 9.3 million tonnes of ore reserves, sufficient for more than 13 years of operation. Planned annual production is 15,000 tonnes of battery-grade lithium hydroxide. Production is anticipated to start in 2024.
In addition to the initial investment, Sibanye-Stillwater has a guaranteed option to achieve a majority shareholding in Keliber, following the completion of the updated feasibility study, should it wish to do so, by contributing further equity financing for the development of the project.
Sibanye-Stillwater Chief Executive Officer Neal Froneman commented, “In line with our strategic objective of entering the battery metals industry, lithium is viewed as one of the core metals to benefit from the significant growth forecast for the electric vehicle sector. Our investment in Keliber represents a strategic partnership of complementary skills and capabilities and a shared vision to be a preferred provider of responsibly sourced battery grade materials for the market. The investment offers the opportunity for further geographic diversification in an attractive mining destination and the opportunity to forge long term relationships with established lithium industry players that have a shared vision of supplying the electric vehicle supply chain. Together with FMG we have committed to make this a showcase ESG operation.”
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