Sibanye-Stillwater chief executive Neal Froneman, left, in conversation with Bernard Swanepoel, the chairperson of the Joburg Indaba, yesterday. Wynand van der Merwe
JOHANNESBURG – Sibanye-Stillwater is exploring the possibility of relocating its primary listing outside of South Africa as it mulls growth opportunities in the battery industry. Chief executive Neal Froneman yesterday told the 2019 Joburg Indaba that the proposed listing would aid the company’s growth ambitions.

“Somewhere in the future we will have to look at our primary listing. That will depend on where we identify our next area of growth,” said Froneman. He also said the precious metal company would remain domiciled in South Africa.

“We will keep an open mind. We want to be truly a global company flying the South African flag.”

Sibanye-Stillwater, which has broken the mould following a series of acquisitions that include Aquarius Platinum and Anglo American Platinum’s Rustenburg operations, is now planning to become a major player in the battery industry.

Froneman confirmed the Sibanye-Stillwater had begun looking at the battery electric sector for new growth opportunities.

A month ago Sibanye-Stillwater said it would buy SFA (Oxford) which provides market intelligence on battery materials and precious metals.

“It will take two years to develop the right strategy in battery metals as long as it is commercially viable. If in two years we find no opportunity, we will not go there. In platinum group metals we found the right opportunities,” said Froneman.

Sibanye, which means "we are one" in Zulu, was formed in 2013 after Gold Fields unbundled its ageing assets Driefontein, Kloof and Beatrix.

The group expects to become the world’s biggest platinum miner and the second biggest palladium producer after the finalisation of its Lonmin takeover.

Froneman is preparing for platinum wage negotiations in June.

He said he would do his best to avoid a strike and above inflation increases.

Sibanye-Stillwater operations grounded four months ago when the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) led its 10000 members on a protracted strike for higher wages.

The union went on strike after rejecting a three-year wage agreement signed by rival unions the National Union of Mineworkers, trade Union Solidarity and the United Association of South Africa and demanded a R1000 annual pay increase for the next three years.

Froneman said Sibanye-Stillwater expected the strike to end after the Labour Court last week declared that the extension of the gold wage agreement was valid and lawful and applicable to non-parties in the agreement.

He said Amcu had gone on the strike to fight the proposed Lonmin takeover.

“It is about Lonmin, and it is a knee jerk reaction to the Competition Tribunal’s approval of the merger,” said Froneman, adding that the company had taken on Amcu for trying to abuse other unions and shareholders.

“The destruction in value on their side and our side has been enormous, but we are not going to be bullied.”

Sibanye shares closed 0.23percent lower on the JSE yesterday at R17.34.