Mimosa co-parent strikes US$490 million lithium joint venture deal

Sibanye-Stillwater Chief Executive Officer, Neal Froneman
  • Deal “essential for transition to a cleaner future”
  • Sibanye has agreed to subscribe for a strategic placement of new ordinary shares in “ioneer” equal to 7.1% of ioneer’s placement shares for US$70m
  • Rhyolite Ridge is expected to be one of the first large US lithium projects to enter production

Johannesburg – South African-based miner, Sibanye Stillwater, with a 50% holding in Zimbabwe’s Mimosa Platinum Mine, is furthering its commitment to lithium development, a key element in the production of electric vehicles as the world moves towards a cleaner future.

In a statement released today, Sibanye said that it has reached an agreement with ioneer Limited (“ioneer”) to establish a joint venture company with respect to the Rhyolite Ridge Lithium-Boron Project.

ioneer is an Australian Securities Exchange-listed mining development company with a current market capitalisation of US$1.0 billion and is the 100% owner of Rhyolite Ridge.

Rhyolite Ridge is a large, shallow lithium-boron deposit and is expected to be one of the first large-scale US lithium projects to enter production, currently anticipated in H2 2024.

“Following the satisfaction of all conditions precedent as detailed in Transaction Details, Sibanye-Stillwater will contribute US$490 million for a 50% interest in the Joint Venture, with ioneer maintaining a 50% interest and retaining the operational management responsibility for the Joint Venture,” Sibanye said.

“In addition, Sibanye-Stillwater has agreed to subscribe for a strategic placement of new ordinary shares in ioneer equal to 7.1% of ioneer’s ordinary share capital post placement (“Placement Shares”), for approximately US$70 million.”

Sibanye-Stillwater Chief Executive Officer Neal Froneman commented, “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.”

“We look forward to working collaboratively with the ioneer team and leveraging our complementary skills and capabilities to ensure this strategically important, world-class project is delivered and materially contributes to reducing climate change,” he added.

The other two mentioned ventures include the Keliber lithium investment in February this year and the acquisition of Sandouville nickel processing facilities, located in Normandy, France.

Investment Rationale

Sibanye-Stillwater’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. Consistent with this, the US Government has declared lithium as critical to economic and national security and has called for the development of US critical metal processing and refining capacity.

Transaction details

Under the terms of the Joint Venture, Sibanye-Stillwater will also have an 18-month option after completion has occurred to acquire a 50% interest in the North Basin, a highly prospective exploration asset neighbouring the current project, for up to an additional US$50m, subject to certain terms and conditions.

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