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Sweco Illustration-Keliber-Kokkola-copyright Keliber Oy

Powering up sustainable mobility

July 2, 2021 | News

Sweco is co-creating solutions for transforming society together with our clients. In Finland, Keliber is working with Sweco on how to advance sustainable mobility and reduce climate change through the production of sustainable lithium battery materials.

In January 2021 the Finnish government announced its national battery strategy to develop Finland into a competitive, competent and sustainable part of the international battery industry, and strengthen its role in sustainable manufacturing and recycling.

Finding new ways to develop a sustainable battery industry is also a hot topic within the European Union and on the world stage. Batteries are a key technology in the transition to climate neutrality. They are essential for sustainable mobility, and a key technology that can contribute to the reduction of global emissions necessary to meet targets of the Paris Agreement.

“This lithium battery material project is an important step in building European-level independence in battery materials,” says Erik Skogström, Managing Director, Sweco Industry, Finland. “We are doing work to transform society, and to make mobility more sustainable. Our team is extremely proud to be working with a project that is doing something for the global good,” he adds.

Erik Skogström, Managing Director, Sweco Industry, Finland

Global demand for lithium increasing
Global demand for lithium is rapidly increasing in the era of the electrification of transportation, renewable energy, and digitalisation.

Keliber, a European, Finnish special chemical and mining company has a goal to be the first European company producing sustainable, high-purity, battery-grade lithium hydroxide from its own ore. Its large-scale lithium production project in Central Ostrobothnia, Finland, is one of the most significant battery chemical projects to be undertaken in Europe and is part of Finland’s national battery strategy.

There are around 20 Sweco experts presently working on the project, but in upcoming phases more than 100 Sweco experts from different disciplines will join the team. Sweco is providing engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) services.

“This project supports the transformation towards sustainable transportation. We have been working with Keliber for about 10 years, and they have been developing this project during that time. We have been able to maintain our client relationship with them throughout this period, and now we are realising the project together,” says Erik Skogström.

The planned Keliber operations will be located in Central Ostrobothnia, a region in western Finland. The lithium deposits are in the municipalities of Kaustinen, Kokkola and Kruunupyy, where a concentrator plant is also being built. A lithium hydroxide plant will be located in Kokkola. The basic design phase is underway and ground breaking is set for 2022. Keliber aims to start production in 2024.

“This project can have a positive impact on society in terms of providing sustainable and mobile energy, since batteries play an important part in that. Lithium reused in a sustainable way is a key element,” Erik Skogström notes.

In addition to the Keliber project, Sweco has also had assignments in recent years to develop the sustainable battery industry for Terrafame and Northvolt.