(Bloomberg) -- Sibanye Stillwater Ltd. said it’s agreed to buy nickel and copper mines in Brazil for $1 billion in cash, a deal that strengthens the South African mining company’s position in the battery metals sector.
The deal to acquire the Santa Rita nickel and Serrote copper mines from affiliates of funds advised by Appian Capital Advisory LLP also includes a smelter royalty valued at $218 million, Johannesburg-based Sibanye said in a statement Tuesday.
The acquisition advances Chief Executive Officer Neal Froneman’s goal of building a presence in metals that are key to powering electric vehicles and the wider green revolution. Sibanye has already acquired lithium assets in Europe and the U.S. this year and a nickel processing facility in France.
“This transaction is a further meaningful step -- adding two low-cost, producing assets to its green metals portfolio,” Sibanye said in the statement.
Santa Rita is one of the largest nickel-cobalt sulphide mines in the world, Sibanye said. The operation, along with Serrote, offers “substantial” long-term potential, it said.
Nickel, traditionally used to make stainless steel, is taking center stage in the mining industry’s push into the booming battery metal space. A key component in lithium-ion batteries, it’s a favorite talking point of Elon Musk, who appealed to producers last year to “please mine more nickel.” That’s helped spark a fight over nickel mines as the industry gears up for the green transition.
“The transaction also highlights the strong and growing demand for decarbonisation commodities,” Michael Scherb, CEO and founder of Appian, said in a statement.
Since its formation in 2013, after Gold Fields Ltd. spun off its oldest South African gold mines, dealmaking CEO Froneman has transformed Sibanye through the acquisition of platinum-group metals assets from Zimbabwe to Montana. Now he wants battery metals to contribute about a third of Sibanye’s earnings within four years as the transition to a greener economy spurs demand.
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