Sibanye Stillwater’s Keliber lithium project progressed significantly during Q3 2023. On 6 October 2023, Sibanye-Stillwater announced Board approval for the construction of the concentrator and the development of the open pit mine. Delivery of ore from the open pit mine will be timed to coincide with the commissioning of the concentrator.
Higher capital expenditures will now be incurred to meet the environmental permit requirements. The capital expenditure for the concentrator is now forecasted at $230 million (R4.5 billion), $10 million (R195 million) higher than the previous estimate.
In addition capital expenditure for the Keliber lithium refinery increased by â‚¬59 million (R1.2 billion) to $418 million (R8.2 billion) due to changes to the effluent water treatment process at the Keliber lithium refinery. The amended technology was added into the flowsheet to ensure compliance with environmental permits, which will also result in increased recoveries. Despite the higher capital requirements, the adjustment has not had a negative impact on the net present value of the project due to the positive impact of the expected recoveries.
The updated aggregated project capital for the Keliber project is estimated at $656 million (R12.8 billion) (2023 real terms) including contingencies (previously $588 million in 2022 real terms).
Further progress in Q3 2023:
- Recruitments according to plan with a headcount of 67 at the end of September with potential to grow the team by over 20 professionals by year end. Overall headcount is planned to grow to 200 by the end of 2024
- Active cooperation and participation with the local community and relevant stakeholders including holding a public event in Kaustinen, sponsoring local sport clubs and cultural events such as Kaustinen folk music festival, cooperation with local schools continued with presentations and negotiations on future training and job opportunities, and public road maintenance and transportation discussed at the Regional Councils’ Traffic Day
- In Q3 2023, 28 diamond drill holes totalling 5,407 metres were completed at the Rapasaari, with two drill rigs. The best assayed intercepts are all associated with the Tuoreetsaaret deposit including 86.35 m @ 1.08 % Li2O.
- The update of the Mineral Resources estimate continued in Q3 2023. The Mineral Resource estimates of seven deposits will be updated, and the final results are due in 2024. As a part of regional lithium exploration, seasonal boulder mapping and till sampling continued in Q3 2023
- Debt funding for the balance of the project is advancing with the target facility increased from $300 million to $500 million
- Project capital expenditure for 2023 is lower than initially guided (see update under Operating guidance below) with the delta of the capital expenditure moving to 2024 due to the later than estimated commencement of the concentrator during 2023.