Sibanye Gold Contemplating Move into Platinum Sector
South Africa’s biggest gold producer, Sibanye Gold, is seriously considering breaking into the platinum sector. And with the way things are going, the company will do so by the end of the year.
Sibanye, which has repeatedly hinted at the possibility, will likely acquire mines from Anglo American Platinum which recently put its strike-hurt mines in South Africa up for sale.
Neal Froneman, Chief Executive of Sibanye Gold said the possibility of platinum as a commodity is genuine and believes it could happen as soon as the end of this year.
“We are positive and bullish about platinum as a commodity and the supply and demand fundamentals,” said Froneman.
“We have done a lot of analysis and there are a couple of shortlisted opportunities that we continue to work on. I would be disappointed if we haven’t done something material in platinum by the end of the year.”
Likely suitors for the company could be Amplat and Anglo American, which has implied in the past it would like to exit its struggling operations in Rustenburg. The mine has been hit hard with the closure of two shafts and lay-offs of more than 5,000 employees.
“There are good quality assets in the platinum sector, including Rustenburg,” said Froneman.
The introduction into the platinum sector shouldn’t be a difficult one. There are strong similarities in the production of gold and platinum as both involve deep-level, labor intensive mining.
Vale invests $150mn to extend life of Manitoba operations
Vale has announced a $150mn CAD investment to extend current mining activities in Thompson, Manitoba by 10 years while aggressive exploration drilling of known orebodies holds the promise of mining well past 2040.
Global energy transition is boosting the market for nickel
The Thompson Mine Expansion is a two-phase project. The announcement represents Phase 1 and includes critical infrastructure such as new ventilation raises and fans, increased backfill capacity and additional power distribution. The changes are forecast to improve current production by 30%.
“This is the largest single investment we have made in our Thompson operations in the past two decades,” said Mark Travers, Executive Vice-President for Base Metals with Vale. “It is significant news for our employees, for the Thompson community and for the Province of Manitoba.
“The global movement to electric vehicles, renewable energies and carbon reduction has shone a welcome spotlight on nickel – positioning the metal we mine as a key contributor to a greener future and boosting world demand. We are proud that Thompson can be part of that future and part of the low carbon solution.”
Vale continues drilling program at Manitoba
Coupled with today’s announcement, Vale is continuing an extensive drilling program to further define known orebodies and search for new mineralization.
“This $150mn investment is just one part of our ambitious Thompson turnaround story. It is an indicator of our confidence in a long future for the Thompson operations,” added Dino Otranto, Chief Operating Officer for Vale’s North Atlantic Base Metals operations.
“Active collaboration between our design team, technical services, USW Local 6166, and our entire Thompson workforce has delivered a safe, efficient and fit-for-purpose plan that will enable us to extract the Thompson nickel resources for many years to come.”
The Thompson orebody was first discovered in 1956 by Vale (then known as Inco) following the adoption of new exploration technology and the largest exploration program to-date in the company’s history. Mining of the Thompson orebody began in 1961.
“We see the lighting of a path forward to a sustainable and prosperous future for Vale Base Metals in Manitoba,” said Gary Annett, General Manager of Vale’s Manitoba Operations.