DRDGOLD “keen” to be vehicle for Sibanye-Stillwater PGM tailings

DRDGOLD CEO Niël Pretorius said his company was “keen” to become involved in retreating platinum group metal (PGM) tailings owned by its majority shareholder Sibanye-Stillwater, but a tie-up was complicated to transact.

“The layout is complex and there is a complex legal structure. It’s not easy to just wander in,” said Pretorius responding to questions at the firm’s annual results presentation on August 23. “But it’s certainly do-able and we’re keen given half the chance.”

Sibanye-Stillwater owns 50.01% of DRDGOLD following two staged transactions. However, DRDGOLD operates independently of the shareholder.

Pretorius said Sibanye-Stillwater’s portfolio of PGM assets was compiled over time with a number of entities which has created ownership complexities.

“There are minorities in different parts of the PGM footprint as the assets were bought over time,” he said. “There are different entities with competing interests in the basket of metals and that needs to be sorted out.”

Sibanye-Stillwater embarked on a PGM acquisition strategy in 2016 picking up Kroondal Platinum Mines, Anglo American Platinum’s Rustenburg Platinum Mines, and Lonmin over the next three years. It also bought Stillwater Mining in the US. As a result, the firm has historic PGM tailings in South Africa totalling 82 million tons. It produced 1.8 million oz of 4E from its South African mines, and about 2.1 million oz including Stillwater.

In an interview with Miningmx, Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman said DRDGOLD was due “a rebrand” which alludes to his firm’s ambitions for the company as a vehicle for its tailings retreatment operations. Sibanye-Stillwater also owns significant uranium tailings and earlier this year took control of New Century, an Australian company which re-mines base metals.

DRDGOLD turned in strong numbers for the 12-months ended June. Production was 8% lower at some 169,820 ounces but a 16% increase in the rand gold price – which came in at R1.04m per kilogram – helped compensate for this and a 16% in cash operating costs.

The outcome was an 8% year-on-year improvement in operating income of R1.8bn. Headline earnings of R1.27bn, an increase of 14%. DRDGOLD ended the 12 months with cash and cash equivalents of R2.47bn (2022: R2.53bn) after paying dividends of R515.3m during the 12 months.

The group declared a final cash dividend of 65 South African cents a share – a 63% year-on-year improvement – taking the total dividend for the year to 85 cents a share. Year to date, shares in DRDGOLD are 46% higher.