Sibanye-Stillwater CEO shrugs off gold mega-merger
CAPE TOWN, Feb 6 (Reuters) - Sibanye-Stillwater (SSWJ.J) is not interested in gold mergers and acquisitions, CEO Neal Froneman said on Monday, after Newmont's $16.9 billion bid for Newcrest increased the pressure on gold miners to consolidate.
Froneman, a seasoned dealmaker, said he had "moved on" from the idea he floated two years ago of merging Sibanye with South African peers Gold Fields and AngloGold Ashanti to create a South African gold mining "champion".
Speaking on the sidelines of the Investing in Africa Mining Indaba in Cape Town, Froneman said he was focused on building a "geographically diverse green metals company".
A platinum and gold miner, Sibanye has acquired nickel and lithium projects over the past three years to get exposure to the battery metals.
Sibanye could be more active in M&A this year thanks to an improving economic backdrop, Froneman said, adding that the miner is looking at lithium projects in Africa, though it is more focused on North America and Europe.
The recently announced massive incentive packages from the U.S. and Europe aimed at boosting domestic production of battery materials have "vindicated" Sibanye's focus on those regions, Froneman said.
The U.S. Inflation Reduction Act adds an estimated $200 million to $300 million to the value of the Rhyolite Ridge lithium mine project over its lifetime, Froneman said. Sibanye has a 50% stake in the Nevada project being built by ioneer Ltd. (INR.AX).
Froneman also said permitting in the United States, which has been a major bottleneck for new mining projects, seemed to be getting smoother.
"I'm not saying environmental laws or standards are going to be lowered or dropped...but there's a willingness by the U.S. administration to see their resources being developed so that they can be less dependent on China," he said.
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