July 25, 2024

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Keliber’s Lithium Project Progresses with Financing by Sibanye-Stillwater

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The future lithium hydroxide producer Keliber Oy, operating in the Central Ostrobothnia area in Finland, has prepared a financing arrangement to enable the Keliber lithium project to progress to the construction phase. The proposed arrangement includes two share issues. In the first one, Sibanye Stillwater Limited will exercise its pre-emptive right to achieve a 50% plus 1 majority shareholding for new Keliber shares to the value of EUR 146 million. The second share issue will have a value of approximately EUR 104 million. In addition, Keliber’s shareholders will receive a Voluntary Offer from Sibanye-Stillwater, with the exception of Finnish Minerals Group, which is preparing to participate in the financial arrangement. The estimated current capital investment in the Keliber lithium project is several hundreds of millions of euros, and Keliber is negotiating loans that are needed in addition to the equity capital.

Mika Seitovirta, the Chairman of Keliber’s Board of Directors, considers the negotiated financing arrangement successful continuation of the cooperation between Keliber and Sibanye-Stillwater, which began in autumn 2020. In connection with the EUR 40 million bridge financing agreement announced in February 2021, Sibanye-Stillwater expressed its interest in playing a key role in the forthcoming financing of Keliber’s lithium project.

“In accordance with the shareholder agreement, Keliber’s Board of Directors will convene an Extraordinary General Meeting to decide on the share issues related to the negotiated financing arrangement. In the same context, Sibanye-Stillwater will use its pre-emptive right to achieve a majority shareholding in Keliber. The proposed arrangement is significant for Keliber because it enables the lithium project to progress to the construction phase, from a financing point of view. Keliber’s Board of Directors considers the negotiated financing arrangement to be a good solution for all parties,” says Mika Seitovirta.

Thanks to the financing arrangement, Keliber’s lithium project in Central Ostrobothnia is progressing as planned, and it is possible to start the construction phase already during the summer. According to Keliber’s CEO Hannu Hautala, Sibanye-Stillwater’s additional investment provides Keliber with a continued solid ownership base and strong expertise in the global mining and minerals processing industry.

“I am happy to say that a financial arrangement has been negotiated in order to accomplish the lithium project. Keliber has discovered additional ore reserves, verified the functionality of its technology, and obtained the necessary building permits. Lithium is in high demand among our customers. With the financing arrangement in place, we still need certain outstanding environmental permits to guide our operations in order to start the full-scale construction work and after that production. Our project is part of the green transition, and it will create financial well-being in the region, for example in the form of tax revenues, jobs and local cooperation,” says Hannu Hautala.

Keliber aims to start the production of lithium hydroxide in 2024 for the growing needs of the battery industry. At that time, the company would be the first one in Europe to produce lithium hydroxide from its own ore. Lithium is needed especially in the production of batteries for electric cars, and for making different portable electronics and tools.

Sibanye-Stillwater, future majority owner of Keliber, makes a voluntary offer to current shareholders – Finnish Minerals Group to maintain its ownership

According to the negotiated financial arrangement, Keliber will execute two share issues. In the first one, Sibanye-Stillwater will subscribe shares for EUR 146 million and achieve a majority shareholding, up from its current 30.3% of the shares.

In addition, Sibanye-Stillwater is willing to acquire the shares of Keliber’s current shareholders, who will be presented a Voluntary Offer, with the exception of Finnish Minerals Group, Keliber’s second largest owner. Keliber has approximately 100 shareholders. Finnish Minerals Group is committed to developing the value chain of lithium-ion batteries in Finland, and it supports the arrangement. It is preparing for its own financial share as a minority owner of Keliber.

Later on, Keliber will execute the second share issue for the remaining shareholders for a value of approximately EUR 104 million. The financial arrangement through share issues is conditional on the decisions of the Extraordinary General Meeting to be held on 11 July 2022. For further financing, loan negotiations will be carried out with several banks during the coming autumn. The negotiated equity funding makes it possible to get loans on competitive terms.

Significant impact on employment and tax income in the area

The negotiated financial arrangement makes it possible to start the construction phase and place orders for the large process technology packages once Keliber has obtained the needed environmental permits. Keliber will continue to recruit new talent.

The Keliber lithium project plan includes a lithium chemical plant in Kokkola Industrial Park, a concentrator plant on the border of the municipalities of Kaustinen and Kronoby, and five thoroughly examined mining sites, in the first of which preparations for construction are already under way.

“Over the next two years, our construction sites will employ up to 500 professionals, and, once production has started, there will be about 250 people working at Keliber sites. Skilled labour is in high demand, and we have been very satisfied with the local educational co-operation in Central Ostrobothnia,” says Hannu Hautala, CEO of Keliber.

Keliber has cooperated for a long time with the authorities to minimise the environmental impact of the future production. For example, the company ensures the protection of water bodies through comprehensive surveys, permit conditions and continuous monitoring of the condition of water bodies. Keliber’s lithium chemical plant was granted the environmental permit recently. The plant will be built in Kokkola Industrial Park (KIP). The environmental permit decision includes a right to start operations despite eventual appeals, which means that Keliber can start the construction phase according to plan.

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