Metso Outotec to deliver technology for the Keliber lithium project in Finland

Sibanye-Stillwater’s subsidiary Keliber has partnered with Metso Outotec to provide its sustainable soda pressure leaching technology for Keliber’s lithium hydroxide refinery, which will be built in Kokkola/Finland. Keliber owns the advanced lithium project located in the Kaustinen region of Finland, which intends to be one of the first integrated operations in Europe to sustainably produce battery-grade lithium hydroxide utilising its own ore. In addition, Metso Outotec will provide key processes for Keliber’s concentrator plant, which will be located on the border of Kaustinen and Kronoby municipalities in Finland.

Following the approval for the Keliber lithium project by Sibanye-Stillwater’s board, as announced on 28 November 2022, the first and biggest technology contract has been signed. The combined order value is approximately € 120 million, of which approximately € 80 million is committed for the Kokkola lithium hydroxide refinery. The planned annual production of the lithium hydroxide refinery is 15 000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide monohydrate.

Metso Outotec’s scope of delivery consists of the engineering and supply of most of the equipment for the lithium hydroxide refinery, as well as installation and commissioning services and training. For the concentrator plant, Metso Outotec’s scope of delivery includes engineering and supply of all the main equipment.

“Metso Outotec’s Planet Positive portfolio, which focuses on the most environmentally efficient technologies, supports the potential for the Keliber project to be a world-class lithium hydroxide producer that is among the most sustainable in the world,” comments Hannu Hautala, CEO of Keliber.

“The lithium hydroxide production process has been successfully tested with Keliber’s concentrate in Metso Outotec’s pilot plant during the last few years. Metso Outotec has also provided the basic engineering for the refinery, which has given us with a well-based, detailed technical and economic performance review of the plant. During the planning and piloting stages, new initiatives were also developed to improve the environmental and production performance of both plants,” tells Heikki Pekkarinen, Chief Project Officer.

“We are excited that Metso Outotec has been selected as a partner for Keliber’s world-class concentrator plant and refinery project. Our proprietary soda pressure leaching technology will enable exceptional material and energy efficiency for the lithium hydroxide refinery, contributing to the sustainability and profitability of the whole project,” says Markku Teräsvasara, President of the Minerals business area at Metso Outotec.

Metso Outotec has developed lithium hard rock-related technologies for some 20 years, and collaboration with Keliber started already in the early 2000s. Metso Outotec’s expertise covers the extraction of lithium from brines and spodumene ores up to battery-grade lithium salts. These processes are patented and meet the needs to produce high-end lithium-ion battery chemicals for the growing market.

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