South Africa-based mining firm Sibanye-Stillwater has increased its stake in Finnish mining and battery chemical company Keliber to 85.96%.

Keliber owns the Keliber advanced lithium hydroxide project, which is located in Finland’s Kaustinen region.

Earlier this year, Sibanye-Stillwater acquired a 30.29% stake in the Keliber project as part of its efforts to diversify into battery metals.

In June, the firm agreed to buy Keliber’s minority shareholders in an effort to increase its stake to more than 80%.

The latest move forms part of a financing arrangement signed that month, which allows the Keliber project to proceed to its construction phase.

As part of the agreement’s first stage, Sibanye-Stillwater has exercised its pre-emptive right to increase its shareholding in Keliber to 50% plus one share.

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To do this, the company has made a €146m ($144.1m) investment in Keliber for new shares.

The new shares are expected to be registered by the end of this month with the Finnish Trade Register.

In addition, Sibanye-Stillwater has made a voluntary cash offer to Keliber’s minority shareholders, excluding Finnish Minerals Group.

This has increased the South African company’s stake in Keliber to 84.96% for a further cash consideration of around €190m.

Finnish Minerals Group currently owns an effective 13.90% stake in Keliber. Other remaining minority shareholders own a 1.14% stake in the project and chose not to accept the voluntary cash offer.

The agreement’s second stage will involve a capital raise of around €104m, which will be fully underwritten by Sibanye-Stillwater.

Sibanye-Stillwater said conventional debt facilities are being negotiated with undisclosed third-party lenders to at least match the equity contribution of €250m to fund the Keliber project’s construction.

Scheduled to start production in 2024, the project is expected to produce around 15,000t of battery-grade lithium hydroxide a year.