JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Renewables have become a critical part of metal mining thinking, the Sibanye-Stillwater Battery Metals Investor Day 2023 audience heard on Tuesday.
“If you look at electricity, renewables are expected to account for between 80% and 90% of global power generation. So, renewables have become a very important part of our thinking in terms of the metals that we need to mine,” Sibanye CEO Neal Froneman told the event covered by Mining Weekly. (Also watch attached Creamer Media video.)
“To ensure that we can deliver on our purpose, renewables are projected to dominate, and their share is expected to double from 30% to 60% in the next 15 years,” said Froneman.
Most of the growth is expected from solar and onshore wind, given the declining costs in those energy applications, with thermal generation and especially gas expected to continue meeting baseload requirements.
“In the future, we believe that nuclear will also play a very important part of baseload generation,” he added.
Johannesburg- and New York-listed Sibanye is intent on providing a solution for opening the mineral wealth of the African continent in addition to playing a major South African role and being well positioned in the Western world ecosystems, predominantly in North America.
With the Rhyolite Ridge project in the US, Sibanye is currently benefiting from the Inflation Reduction Act and has received a supportive conditional loan of up to $700-million for the lithium and boron deposit in Nevada.
The company is well positioned in Europe as well, where it has the Sandouville hydrometallurgical nickel processing facilities near Le Havre, France’s second largest industrial port. This was purchased with the view to converting it into a nickel sulphate plant, with current thinking taking the operation beyond nickel sulphate conversion and including the recycling of batteries in that plant. Better indications of the direction it will take are expected to be known early next year.
“We receive a lot of support from the governments of North America, France and Finland,” said Froneman.
In Finland, Sibanye-Stillwater’s Keliber lithium project acquisition is aligned to the development by the company of a global portfolio of green metals and energy solutions to reverse climate change.
It is also looking to be successful in copper in Zambia and in Africa as a whole, where it sees lots of opportunity.
“We are Africans, and this is in our backyard and I think we can provide solutions to the Western world in terms of responsibly bringing these resources to account,” said Froneman.