South Africa-based gold miner Sibanye-Stillwater is planning to increase its stake in Finnish mining and battery chemical company Keliber to 50% plus one share.

Sibanye-Stillwater currently owns a 30.29% interest in Keliber that was acquired in 2021 via a phased equity investment.

The South African firm now intends to exercise its pre-emptive right to select 50% plus one majority stake for new Keliber shares for €146m.

Furthermore, Sibanye-Stillwater plans to make a voluntary cash offer to Keliber’s minority shareholders, other than state-owned holding and development company Finnish Minerals Group.

The move would increase Sibanye-Stillwater’s stake in Keliber to 86.1% while Finnish Minerals Group will retain its 13.9% interest.

Finnish Minerals Group currently holds a 20% stake in Keliber, making it the latter’s second-largest shareholder.

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Keliber aims to become the Europe’s first fully integrated lithium producer with annual production of around 15,000t of lithium hydroxide and direct market access to European markets.

Sibanye-Stillwater also plans to participate in Keliber’s second share issue, to the value of around €104m.

Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman said: “This is a further significant step in our strategy to build a unique global portfolio of green metals in a value accretive manner.

“We look forward to partnering with our Finnish stakeholders to build the Keliber project, which will be the first mining and metallurgical operation in Europe to deliver high quality, low-cost lithium hydroxide with a low carbon footprint and will be ideally placed to deliver critical metals into the growing European battery industry.”

Keliber owns the Keliber advanced lithium hydroxide project in the Kaustinen region of Finland. The project will produce battery grade lithium hydroxide utilising its own ore, starting from 2024.