Sibanye-Stillwater invests $490m in US lithium joint venture
Thursday’s announcement was the JSE-listed precious metals producer’s third foray into the battery metals space this year.
Diversified mining group Sibanye-Stillwater will invest $490-million in a 50-50 joint venture with Australia’s pioneer to develop a lithium mine in the US state of Nevada. It is the latest foray by the JSE-listed precious metals producer into battery metals, which are seen powering the electric vehicle (EV) revolution.
Sibanye CEO Neal Froneman is a dealmaker of note, taking the Gold Fields’ spin-off into platinum group metals (PGMs) and battery metals. Thursday’s announcement was the company’s third foray into the battery metals space this year.
“Sibanye’s battery material strategy is primarily focused on the United States and Europe in recognition of the developing need for battery metals for the transition towards greater electrification of their established automotive industries,” Sibanye said in a statement.
The Rhyolite Ridge project Sibanye is taking a stake in is a large, shallow deposit, located close to existing infrastructure in Nevada.
“Rhyolite Ridge is expected to be one of the first large scale US lithium projects to enter production, currently anticipated in H2 2024,” Sibanye said.
Sibanye’s presence in the US includes its Stillwater PGM operation in the US state of Montana – a cash spinner at current prices. A company that began exclusively mining deep-level, labour-intensive gold deposits in South Africa has been diversifying both its production and its geographical profile, reducing its exposure to political and other risks in its home base.
“This is Sibanye-Stillwater’s second lithium transaction and third transaction in the battery metals sector, which will be essential for the transition to a cleaner future. Rhyolite Ridge is a world-class lithium project and we recognise its strategic value, with the potential to become the largest lithium mine in the US,” Froneman was quoted as saying.
When it comes to deals, Froneman’s battery never seems to stop. DM/BM