SIBANYE-STILLWATER said today it had signed a share purchase agreement (SPA) to buy 100% of the Sandouville nickel processing facility in France, a €65m transaction announced in July.
The signature of the SPA follows the conclusion of meetings with employee representative bodies of the seller Eramet, who support the proposed transaction.
Sibanye-Stillwater said it hoped to complete the transaction in early 2022 once it had met the remaining conditions precedent which include the transfer of permits. The South African Reserve Bank and the French Foreign Investment Control Office have given their support to the deal, the company said.
The Sandouville facilities include a hydrometallurgical nickel refinery with a production capacity of 12,000 tons a year of high-purity nickel metal, 4,000 tons annually of high-purity nickel salts and solutions, and around 600 tons per annum of cobalt chloride.
Neal Froneman, CEO of Sibanye-Stillwater said in July that the transaction was an “… important step in getting further downstream exposure to the battery metals value chain”.
“The Sandouville facility is ideally located close to the European end-user markets [and] will allow us to leverage our existing platinum group metals (PGMs) relationships,” he said.
The Sandouville facility is situated in the industrial heart of Europe at Le Havre, France’s second largest industrial port, said Sibanye-Stillwater. It has “… strategic access to extensive logistical infrastructure including shipping, rail, and key motorways, supporting any future supply into the European end-user markets”.
Commenting on the acquisition of Oy Keliber in February, Froneman said that Europe was “… rapidly becoming a leading hub for the manufacture of batteries for electric vehicles”.
One of the reasons for Europe wanting to build its battery metals manufacturing capability is to reduce the zone’s reliance on China. Said Froneman in an interview with Miningmx for its Mining Yearbook: “You can rest assured that the Europeans are going to become less dependent on batteries out of China.
“The Americans are going to become less dependent, and we’re just talking batteries here, out of anywhere else other than America”.