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Major platinum player Sibanye-Stillwater invests in lithium project in Finland

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(Kitco News) - Sibanye-Stillwater (JSE: SSW) (NYSE: SBSW), the world’s largest primary producer of platinum and rhodium, announced today that it will make an initial phased equity investment of EUR30 million, for an approximate 30% equity shareholding into Keliber, the owner of eponymous advanced lithium project, located in the Kaustinen region of Finland.

The company added that in addition, a further EUR10 million equity issuance will simultaneously be offered to the existing Keliber shareholders, on the same terms as Sibanye-Stillwater’s EUR30 million investment. The transaction is expected to be implemented in March 2021, subject to the approval by the South African Reserve Bank.

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.

The company said that the EUR40 million investment will allow for the completion of further detailed mining optimisation studies, permitting, metallurgical test work and detailed engineering design.

An updated and enhanced definitive feasibility study will be completed within 18 to 24 months, with a view to achieving successful project financing of a currently estimated EUR340 million by H2 2022. The project financing would include both a debt and equity component.

The company pointed out that this investment into Keliber represents “the first strategic step” by Sibanye-Stillwater’s into the battery metals sector, which is complementary to its leading PGM position, with both battery metals and PGMs essential to achieving a "greener" future.

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