Sibanye-Stillwater to raise stake in Finland's Keliber

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A mine shaft is seen at the Sibanye gold mine in Westonaria, west of Johannesburg, April 6, 2016. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

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June 30 (Reuters) - Sibanye-Stillwater (SSWJ.J) plans to increase its shareholding in Finnish lithium firm Keliber to 50% plus one share, the South Africa-listed miner said on Thursday, and is offering to buy minority shareholders out to boost its stake to over 80%.

Sibanye-Stillwater agreed to take a 30.29% stake in Keliber in February as part of its strategy of diversifying away from South African platinum and gold production into battery metals, which have benefited from surging prices.

Keliber aims to be the first fully-integrated lithium producer in Europe, targeting first production in 2024 and ramping up to produce around 15,000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide per year.

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Sibanye will make a voluntary cash offer to Keliber minority shareholders except the Finnish Minerals Group - a state-owned firm holding a stake of around 20% - and expects all the transactions to be completed by February 13, 2023.

The transaction will cost Sibanye 446 million euros at most, of which it will contribute a maximum of 250 million euros in equity.

It is subject to approval from the South African Reserve Bank and 50% of Keliber shareholders.

The financing from Sibanye will allow Keliber to start construction in the summer, the Finnish firm said, and to place orders for equipment once required environmental permits are obtained.

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Reporting by Siddarth S in Bengaluru and Helen Reid in Johannesburg; editing by Rashmi Aich and Jason Neely

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