Sibanye-Stillwater soars on surprise $93 million-move on DRDGold

Precious metals producer Sibanye-Stillwater (JSE:SGL) (NYSE:SBGL) has agreed to exchange a number of gold-processing assets and tailings storage facilities for a 38% stake in South African DRDGOLD Ltd. (DRD), in a deal valued at R1.3 billion (roughly $93 million).

Shares in the South African miner jumped on the news, closing 5.2% higher in Johannesburg to R1,900, and they were up 3.5% in New York to $5.34 at 11:44AM.

Sibanye, South Africa’s largest gold producer and the world’s third largest producer of palladium and platinum, said the deal could lead it to take a controlling stake within two years by acquiring additional shares at a 10% discount.

Key among the assets Sibanye-Stillwater is making DRDGold manage as part of the deal is the West Rand Tailings Retreatment Project (WRTRP).

The assets the miner is transferring have probable gold mineral reserves of 3.82 million ounces, it said. And while Sibanye plans to retain long-term exposure to the West Rand tailings retreatment project  (WRTRP) in South Africa, it’s leaving the development of such endeavour to DRDGold.

WRTRP is a large-scale, long-life surface tailings retreatment that will retreat material with a 35% higher gold content than the material treated by DRDGold at its flagship Ergo metallurgical plant on the East Rand.

The transaction virtually doubles DRDGold’s gold reserves, giving it immediate access to facilities that can generate cash for it in a matter of months. It also cuts overhead unit costs through increased production and puts an end to DRDGold’s single asset operating risk.

Neither the Cooke nor the Ezulwini gold and uranium tailings treatment plants are part of the deal.

The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of the 2018.

Today’s news come less than two weeks after Sibanye-Stillwater announced it was axing its workforce in South Africa, retrenching or offering voluntary dismissals to 3,375 people at its loss-making Cooke gold mine. It did announce it had decided to keep Beatrix West open, warning that if the operation became loss making, it would be put on care and maintenance with immediate effect.

The miner is currently heavily indebted as a result of its $2.2bn takeover of Stillwater in April. Sibanye, which conducted a $1 billion rights issue earlier this year, had to halt dividend in August for the first time since it was spun off from Gold Fields in 2013, after reporting losses for the first half of the year and rising debt levels.