Sibanye confirms talks with Anglo over platinum mines for sale

Sibanye confirms talks with Anglo over platinum mines for sale

Amplats' Mogalakwena platinum mine (Photo provided)

Sibanye Gold (NYSE:SBGL) (JSE:SGL), South Africa’s largest producer of the precious metal, confirmed Thursday is holding negotiations with Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) to buy its Rustenburg assets.

While Amplats (JSE:AMS), the world’s largest platinum miner, is also talking with other interested companies, discussions with Sibanye are said to be “at an advanced stage” and the platinum producer has even put off plans to list the business separately, Bloomberg reports.

Rumours about South Africa’s top gold company buying off the three mines in the platinum belt operated by Anglo have been mounting since early last year. But today is the first time in over 15 months that Sibanye officially confirms its interest in Amplats’ assets that are up for sale.

Shares in both firm jumped on the news. Amplats closed 9.28% higher to 35,100 Rand, while Sibanye finished the session up 3.48% to 1,635 Rand.

An exit from Rustenburg — with three mines and a workforce of about 16,000 — would deepen the changes Anglo’s chief executive Mark Cutifani has promised.  In August, the company sold two of its Chilean copper mines and plants for up to $500 million, while the sale of coal deposits in Australia is also in the works.

Prices for platinum, used in catalysts that cut harmful emissions from vehicles as well as jewellery, have dropped over 40% since August 2011, squeezing the margins of higher-cost, aging mines in South Africa, which holds more than 70% of global reserves.