Geology and production
The area of Kaustinen and its surroundings have been known for their spodumene pegmatites ever since the late 1950s.
The first indications of spodumene, a mineral rich in lithium, in the bedrock of Kaustinen were discovered in the village of Nikula in 1959. Since then, the area has been explored in a number of stages spanning the past decades.
Today, the lithium spodumene deposits of Central Ostrobothnia are one of the most important reserves in Europe.
The production process consists of mining, a concentration process, heat treatment and hydrometallurgical process. The entire process chain from mining ore to producing battery-grade lithium hydroxide is managed by Keliber, which enables optimizing the amount of ore to be mined and enriched.
Ore mining is carried out as open pit mining and underground mining. Most mining operations take place in open pit mines. The ore in Keliber’s deposits is high-grade lithium ore with spodumene as the ore mineral.
In the enrichment process, the ore is crushed and milled. Milling is followed by the flotation process. The flotation concentrate formed in the process is spodumene concentrate. Then, the spodumene concentrate will be transferred to the lithium chemical plant for further processing.
The lithium chemical plant is located in the Kokkola Industrial Park (KIP). At the chemical plant, the crystal structure of the spodumene concentrate is converted into β-spodumene in a high temperature and processed further into lithium hydroxide in a hydrometallurgical process.
The production process of the chemical plant was developed in collaboration with Outotec. The process is based on soda leaching, which helps minimize the environmental effects of production, as for instance production side streams can be efficiently utilized.
Estimated average production volumes
- Ore mining 600,000 tonnes per year on average
- Spodumene concentrate production 130,000 tonnes per year on average
- Battery-grade lithium hydroxide 15,000 tonnes per year
- Analcime sand as a by-product 210,000 tonnes per year
3D animation on ore mining, ore enrichment, thermal treatment and hydrometallurgical process.