SA risks surrendering trade advantage by siding with Russia, says Sibanye-Stillwater

A soldier patrols onboard the Chinese frigate Rizhao 598, ahead of naval drills between Russia, South Africa and China, in Richards Bay, South Africa, on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023. The exercises, known as MOSI II, have been criticized by some of South Africas biggest trade partners, including the US and European Union, who have questioned the timing of the exercises, which take place one year after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg via Getty Images

SOUTH Africa risked surrendering a competitive trade advantage by failing to remain neutral in respect of the war in Ukraine, said Sibanye-Stillwater’s Africa head, Richard Stewart.

“Five years ago I would have said a strategic strength of South Africa was that we were neutral. Today, we are walking a fine line. We have picked sides,” he said at the PGM Industry Day, a conference in Johannesburg.

“We have ships sailing in our ocean with guns on them,” he added referring to military exercises off Cape Town earlier this month by Russian and Chinese naval forces bearing hypersonic weaponry. The manouevres were criticised by South African-based diplomats from the European Union and NATO, according to a Reuters report.

“This is going to create tension,” said Stewart. “We are an open market; we rely on supply chains. We need to think very carefully as to how we walk this line.” South Africa abstained from voting on a UN resolution last year condemning Russia after it invaded Ukraine.

In addition to missteps by the South African government in international policy, there was  the risk of social discontent domestically spinning out of control.

A blackout as a result of a system failure at power utility Eskom would be “frightening”, and easily outweighed the risk of socio-economic disruption ahead of the country’s national elections next year, said Stewart.

“Where do people go in a blackout? Where do they get resources” while power was knocked out for 10 days, he asked.

Social and economic risks in South Africa had contributed to an increase in the cost of capital. New projects in South Africa required a 20% hurdle rate – double that of new projects in Europe, he said.

Sibanye-Stillwater has forecast production of between 1.7 and 1.8 million ounces of platinum group metals (PGMs) from its South African mines this year. While the company is bullish on prices, Stewart warned that demand would be engineered away from the country if there was no long term security of supply.

“We are not competitive as a country. We have armed attacks every week on our operations. If we are relying just on current technology [for future demand] we are being incredibly complacent and arrogant,” he said.

“Just look at cobalt,” he said referring to the development of cobalt-free batteries for electric vehicles as a means of improving provenance. The metal is mined as a by-product of copper in the Democratic Republic of Congo. “If we don’t increase the security of what we have in the ground, technology will take it out,” said Stewart.


  1. I am a Shareholder in Sibanye and would like to know whether the Sibanye share price will increase in the next few months.
    Has the war in Ukraine had any effect on the share price recently?

  2. I don’t get the reason behind what sibanye stillwater is saying, BRICS is where we belong, that decision has been made long time ago, and economically its a bigger and stable bloc than NaTO which keeps on killing sovereign states for no reason other than not liking them, Iran, Libya, Afghan etc…Morals have to Trump trade advantages at some point, but I understand this is not something many SA corporates appreciate, because they themselves are immoral,The US after all supported Apartheid and has paid no reparations to this day and still continue to support Israel apartheid state. BRICs is the future, infact its here, and here to stay and grow bigger, look at the stats. We don’t all hold onto this obsession they have with their western heritage states like those in the NATO bloc, the biggest aggressors in the world and should I add, not trustable.

    • Just an FYI… NATO is North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Where do you think Europe will get its support? From Russia? They have already been down that road and no the outcome – greedy oligards.

      As for US, I know the US is not favored by many countries, however, the US was once a British colony and fought for it’s freedom.

  3. Morning
    I often wonder why commentators have reservations about black Leadership in Africa and SA in particular. America and Britain went to many wars including the Iraq war on lies about nuclear weapons, Libya is in ruins by fighting Muammar Gaddafi regime. When will your Godfathers at ICC arrest Bush, Blair and Cameron when they are so relentless on Putin.
    South Africa must choose it’s allies not to be lectured about business when we know that China is South Africa Trading partnership is growing
    European union has constantly been changing the rules from disputes about wine labellings to rooibos tea copyright issues,
    In reality white business is complit
    Mr koos Bekker has made billions of dollars with tencent
    War is bad it causes collateral damage to innocent lives we don’t want it
    The people of Ukraine deserve their future without war.
    Let’s stop inflaming tensions because of our narrative

  4. Now I understand why Sibanye is struggling. They have executives that put their noises into things that have nothing to do with them – we have paid agents that masquerade as executives in these corporates.

    For your own information, a side is already chosen for SA. China is SA’s biggest trade partner – it accounts for more than double the trade we do with the US. Going against China would be the same as going against our own interest.

  5. If RSA supported the Nazis led by the cocaine addict in Ukraine Sibanye was not going to say anything.

  6. Sibanye must leave politics to politicians and focus on their operations.Thats it!!

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