Significant progress was made advancing Sibanye-Stillwater green metals strategy during 2021, with a series of transactions announced during H2 2021 following the acquisition of an initial 26.6% holding in the Keliber lithium project during H1 2021.
These transactions represent the outcome of two years of careful market analysis and engagement in our strategic path towards building a climate change resilient business, enabling further international diversification in high quality and strategic assets that is set to deliver substantial future value and earnings diversification.
In summary the transactions comprise:
- During2021, the Group acquired a 26.6% stake in the Keliber Lithium project for EUR25 million. A further EUR5 million payment in March 2022 will secure a 30% interest in the project, with the option to increase this interest to over 50% following the conclusion of a definitive feasibility study which will dictate the funding requirements. Keliber is planned as the 1st fully integrated lithium producer in Europe with direct access to key European battery markets from the Port of Kokkola in Finland
- The acquisition of 100% of Eramet’s Sandouville nickel processing facilities in Le Havre, France was concluded on 4 February 2022 for an effective cash consideration of EUR85 million (adjusting for closing net debt and working capital). Following the investment in the Keliber lithium project in Finland, this acquisition consolidates Sibanye-Stillwater’s presence in Europe, securing another strategic footprint in a favourable jurisdiction with strategic access to rapidly developing battery metal end user markets in Europe. Integration of the existing facility into the Group is underway with internal studies on optimisation of the facility and options for development of an adjacent property into a possible battery metals and recycling facility in progress
- On16 September 2021 the Group announced a proposed 50:50 joint venture (JV) with ioneer with respect to the Rhyolite Ridge Lithium-Boron project in Nevada, USA. During Q4 2021, the Group acquired a 7.1% direct equity interest in ioneer for approximately US$70 million. The Group’s option to acquire a 50% interest in the Rhyolite Ridge project JV for a US$490 million contribution for the development of the proposed project, remains subject to various conditions being met, including obtaining all relevant permits required to develop the project. Rhyolite Ridge is a world-class lithium project with the potential to become the largest and lowest cost lithium mine in the US and is strategically positioned close to the rapidly developing battery production facilities in the region. ioneer management continues to work closely with the US Fish and Wildlife Services and Bureau of Land Management on the current propagation studies for the Tiehm’s buckwheat as part of the conservation plan being developed for the project. The first seedling and propagation studies undertaken in 2020 were conducted by the University of Nevada – Reno
- In December 2021, the Group acquired a 19.9% stake in New Century, a leading Australian tailings reprocessing business for a cash consideration of A$61 million. The New Century investment is complementary to and enhances Sibanye-Stillwater’s established position as a leading global tailings retreatment business uniquely positioned to play a key role in green metal supply chains together with its investment in DRDGOLD, a leading international gold tailings retreatment business
On 24 January 2022 the Group announced the termination of the proposed acquisitions of the Santa Rita nickel and Serrote copper mines in Brazil from Appian Capital, which had been announced on 26 October 2021. Shortly after the announcement of the proposed transaction, Appian informed the Group that a geotechnical event had occurred at the Santa Rita mine.
The Company subsequently assessed the event and concluded that it was likely to have a material and adverse effect on the business, financial condition, results of operations, the properties, assets, liabilities or operations of Santa Rita. As a result, a decision was taken to terminate the proposed transaction.