Finnish Minerals Group has agreed to increase its stake in the Keliber lithium hydroxide project in Finland to 20% through an additional investment of €53.95m.

The mining and battery holding and development firm will acquire the additional 6% stake by taking part in the €104m rights issue, which was announced by Keliber in 2022.

Keliber, which is a Finnish mining and battery chemical firm, will decrease its stake in the lithium hydroxide project from 85% to 79% following the rights issue. The company is controlled by South Africa-based miner Sibanye-Stillwater with a stake of 85%.

Prior to the latest announcement, Finnish Minerals Group, and before that Finnish Industry Investment invested a total of €16.7m in the Keliber lithium hydroxide project. The Finnish Minerals Group manages the Finland government’s mining industry shareholdings.

Finnish Minerals Group CEO Matti Hietanen said: “We have been involved in the development of Keliber since 2018, and as an owner, we can be very pleased with how the company and our shareholder value have developed.

“Lithium has been classified as a critical raw material in the EU, both economically and in terms of security of supply. Keliber’s flagship project supports the availability of European battery-grade lithium hydroxide and the electrification of road transport, contributing to the green transition.”

As per its definitive feasibility study, the capital expenditure of the Keliber lithium hydroxide project is projected at around €588m.

Last month, the laying of the earthworks for the lithium refinery, as part of the first phase of the project began in Kokkola, Finland. The foundation stone for the project is planned to be laid in early May 2023.

Earlier this year, the Keliber lithium hydroxide project secured an environmental permit to develop the Rapasaari mine and Päiväneva concentrator.

Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman said: “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.”