South Africa’s Sibanye looking to bring in Chinese investor for Zambia copper mine

South Africa’s Sibanye Stillwater is considering bringing in a Chinese investor to form a partnership if it succeeds in its bid to acquire Zambia’s Mopani Copper Mines, according to the company’s CEO, Neal Froneman. Sibanye is among the shortlisted potential buyers for the copper mines owned by a unit of the Zambian government. Froneman mentioned that they are working with a partner they have already identified and that the Chinese company has a presence in copper mining. The CEO did not provide further details about the investor or the terms of the potential partnership.

Sibanye is competing against China’s Zijin Mining Group in the bid for Mopani Copper Mines. Froneman, known for his dealmaking expertise, aims to expand Sibanye’s portfolio with new assets as the output from South African gold and platinum mines has been affected by electricity blackouts and rising crime.

The potential Chinese partner’s involvement could help mitigate risks associated with the investment in Mopani Copper Mines. Froneman noted that the partner is experienced in the copper business and smelting, which would contribute to managing risks associated with the venture.

Swiss commodities group Glencore sold a 73% stake in Mopani to Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM) in 2021. Glencore retained offtake rights of Mopani’s copper production until the debt from the transaction had been repaid in full.

The winner of the bid for Mopani’s assets, managed by Rothschild & Co, is expected to be announced in about three weeks. Froneman stated that the Mopani assets require significant investment, but the spending would be spread over several years. He emphasized a preference for working with partners and earning-in, which would avoid a large upfront capital outlay for the acquisition.

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