Sibanye-Stillwater (JSE: SSW and NYSE: SBSW) announced that it has entered into an exclusive put option agreement with French mining group Eramet SA for the acquisition of 100% of the Sandouville nickel hydrometallurgical processing facility, located in Normandy, France for €65million ($77m) cash.
The transaction is expected to conclude by year-end, subject to the approval of the South African Reserve Bank and other regulatory approvals, Sibanye said in a news release.
The Sandouville facility is situated in the industrial heart of Europe at Le Havre, France’s second-largest industrial port, with strategic access to infrastructure including shipping, rail and key motorways, supporting any future supply into the European end user markets.
The current Sandouville facilities include a hydrometallurgical nickel refinery with a production capacity of 12,000 tonnes per annum of high-purity nickel metal, 4,000 tonnes per annum of high-purity nickel salts and solutions and around 600 tonnes per annum of cobalt chloride.
The transaction is the second step in Sibanye-Stillwater’s battery metals strategy, building on the investment in the Keliber lithium hydroxide project, in partnership with the State of Finland and the Finnish Minerals Group, announced in February 2021.
The Sandouville site is a polyvalent facility which is already zoned for heavy industrial purposes. The site s scaleable for nickel, cobalt and lithium battery-grade products, and will enable Sibanye-Stillwater to further advance its battery metals strategy and recycling activities.
The acquisition is seen as a low-risk entry into the nickel beneficiation business and the initial focus will be on ramping up throughput as per the existing Eramet plans. As part of the due diligence Sibanye-Stillwater has completed a scoping study to in parallel with current production further upgrade the Sandouville facilities to target specific nickel battery metal products.
“We are delighted to progress with this second step in our battery metals strategy, which is an important step in getting further downstream exposure to the battery metals value chain,” Neal Froneman, Sibanye-Stillwater said in the statement.
The Sandouville facility is ideally located close to the European end-user markets and well supported by significant logistical infrastructure, which will allow us to leverage our existing Platinum Group Metals relationships.,” Froneman said.
“We look forward to working with Eramet and the French authorities to build a leading battery metals platform in Europe.”