6.11.2019 | Company Announcement / Press release
Keliber lithium project update
In the beginning of 2019, Keliber decided to change its end product from lithium carbonate to lithium hydroxide. The updated Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) based on the production of lithium hydroxide was published in early 2019. The DFS clearly demonstrated the economic feasibility of the project. Throughout 2019, Keliber has continued to advance the project in various fields including technical planning, permitting and financing, reaching several significant milestones.
The global lithium market is currently experiencing softness as lithium battery chemical end-users are still in ramp-up phase, which has together with the changes in Chinese New Energy Vehicle (NEV) subsidies resulted in decreasing prices of lithium products. The situation is estimated to be temporary and prices are expected to recover by the early to mid-2020s. The long-term general market outlook for lithium hydroxide remains positive and growth of lithium hydroxide demand is strongest among the lithium products as the battery chemical industry is moving towards nickel-rich cathode chemicals. Overall, growth in the lithium market as whole is expected to continue in double digits for a long time.
Keliber has identified certain factors that need to be further assessed and planned. Due to the changes in end product and production process, additional technical and environmental planning have been required. Keliber has also evaluated the length of the upcoming construction stage and updated the construction master schedule, leaving more reservations on delivery of long-leading items, acknowledging also that certain construction activities are best to be done outside winter period.
Syväjärvi environmental permit which was received in early 2019 has not yet reached legal force due to appeals. Keliber now estimates that the preparative works at Syväjärvi mine site will not commence in 2019, although the company has received a permit to initiate activities from the Regional Administrative Agency. Currently, Keliber estimates that construction could start in 2021, presuming that sufficient project readiness regarding permits and technical design has been reached, and that favorable market conditions for project financing exists. It is estimated that the construction phase would take over two years.
Keliber will continue to advance the lithium project as planned in various fields including further technical planning and permitting. The company simultaneously continues to verify the ore potential, which has during autumn 2019 proven to be more significant than expected: in September, Keliber published an updated Mineral Resource estimate, according to which the Measured and Indicated Mineral Resources of Rapasaari deposit are approximately 40 percent more than previously estimated. The company will publish updated Ore Reserve estimate for Rapasaari later this year.
Keliber’s objective is to ensure that the project is realized at the best possible time from the market perspective, to align with the strongest expected growth of lithium demand in Europe. Keliber also targets that company’s lithium project is an exemplary flagship of sustainable lithium production, executed according to best available technologies and practices.
To ensure sufficient and optimal financing and efficient progress of the lithium project, the Board of Directors continues to evaluate and prepare potential financing options.
Pertti Lamberg, CEO, Keliber Oy, tel. +358 50 599 1189
6.11.2019 / Keliber Oy