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The Finnish Minerals Group, which manages the Finnish State mining industry shareholdings, will increase its holding in the Keliber lithium project from 14% to 20%, by subscribing for €53.9-million of a previously announced €104-million rights issue, precious and battery minerals miner Sibanye-Stillwater reported on Tuesday.

After the rights issue, Sibanye-Stillwater would retain 79% in the Keliber project. while minority shareholders would hold the balance of the shares in Keliber Oy.

The laying of the earthworks for the Keliber lithium refinery (first phase of the project) in Kokkola, Finland began in March with the foundation stone planned to be laid during a ceremony on May 11.

“The progress made on the project since it was approved last year, is very encouraging, while the support shown by the Finnish Minerals Group for the project, through this additional subscription, is a substantial vote of confidence in the project,” said Sibanye-Stillwater head of the European region, Mika Seitovirta.

The total Keliber project capital is estimated at €588-million (excluding sustaining capital) as per the definitive feasibility study, with the initial equity funding of the project capital already secured through the increase of Sibanye-Stillwater shareholding to over 50%, and the remaining equity funding secured through the planned rights issue of about €104-million.

The remaining project capital will be raised through debt funding.

“We are delighted with the progress of the Keliber project and the commitment of the Finnish Minerals Group as we advance and continue to grow our unique portfolio of green metals and enhance our presence supplying European battery metals industry,” said CEO Neal Froneman