There is a “profitable business case” for developing a lithium project in Finland to supply high-quality battery materials for Europe’s “fast-developing lithium markets”, according to the firm behind the project.
Finnish mining company Keliber Oy said a definitive feasibility study indicates the project could make the firm Europe’s “first vertically integrated battery grade lithium carbonate producer”.
According to Keliber, the project could produce 11,000 tonnes a year of battery grade lithium carbonate from spodumene-rich pegmatite deposits around the towns of Kaustinen and Kokkola in Ostrobothnia, Western Finland.
The mine’s expected lifetime would be 13 years based on current ore reserves. But the project could be extended to 20 years by purchasing spodumene concentrates from third parties for seven years after the site is exhausted.
Keliber said the main purpose of the study was to qualify the project for construction financing. CEO Pertti Lamberg said the results provided a “good basis” for talks with investors about the project— which would have an estimated total development capital cost for the mines, concentrator and chemical plant of EUR255 million ($296m).
An initial investment of EUR199m would be required with the remainder “invested later”. Keliber is mostly owned by Finnish investment companies and private investors. The largest individual stakeholder (around 22%) is Norwegian mining firm Nordic Mining.
Lamberg said lithium consumption at the start of the 2030s is estimated to be “seven times higher than current consumption”.
The nominal price for battery-grade lithium carbonate is forecast to be $11,000 per tonne in 2020 rising to $19,000 per tonne in 2032, Keliber said.
Chinese lithium battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology Limited (CATL) bought a 22% stake in Finnish auto supplier Valmet Automotive last year as part of moves into the European electric vehicle market.