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Sibanye wants to tap green metals boom as gold deals lack value

The precious metal miner’s immediate priority is to expand in battery metals rather than gold.
Image: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

Sibanye Stillwater’s dealmaking boss said the precious metal miner’s immediate priority is to expand in battery metals rather than gold.

Some of the biggest mining companies are expanding into or eying commodities tied to the green revolution, such as metals used in electric-vehicle batteries. Already this year, Johannesburg-based Sibanye struck deals to buy a nickel hydrometallurgical processing facility in France and acquire a stake in the owner of a lithium project in Finland.

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That marked Sibanye’s first foray into battery metals as Chief Executive Officer Neal Froneman looks to grow and diversify the company. The CEO has already transformed Sibanye from a gold miner focused on South Africa to a giant in platinum-group metals by expanding at home and in the US.

“At the moment it’s very difficult to find value in the gold sector,” he said on an investor call on Thursday. “I don’t see the gold price doubling or tripling, but I see battery metals doing that in the not too distant future.”

Sibanye is still interesting in expanding its gold business in the long term, Froneman said. Earlier this year, he said he was prepared to spend as much as $5 billion on gold assets with an annual output of more than 1 million ounces.

The company is also weighing options to develop uranium projects at its Beatrix West and Cooke assets in South Africa, where it sees gold output gradually declining from 2025 as commercially viable reserves dwindle.

© 2021 Bloomberg

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