Less than three years into the mining business and Sibanye is on the cusp of becoming the world’s fifth largest platinum producer.
The $294 million takeover bid by Sibanye for Aquarius Platinum could increase the company’s 700,000 oz production to around 1.1 million oz- making it a player in the world platinum game. There likely to be a number of takeovers in platinum mining in South Africa as the battered industry tries to consolidate and survive after two years of strikes and falling prices.
Sibanye hinted, at the announcement of the takeover in Johannesburg that this acquisition is unlikely to be its last. The company felt brave enough to pay a healthy US 19.5 cps and says it is looking even though there is not yet another deal in the pipeline.
The company feels the price of platinum has almost bottomed out and now is the time to invest in Aquarius’s two platinum operations Kroondal operation, near Rustenburg in north western South Africa and Mimosa Mine, just south of Gweru, in Zimbabwe. The mines employ 8,500 people.
Sibanye CEO Neal Froneman believes Aquarius is not only cash rich, but also capable of generating cash. The Aquarius mines are low cost, shallow, mechanised and well run, he says.
“The synergies between these mines also mean there are no need for job losses; in fact, it could grow the employment base,” says Froneman.
The deal, for which negotiations opened at the end of 2013, is being financed with the help of a $300 million loan from HSBC. It will go for shareholder approval early next year and also has to be approved by the regulatory authorities.