Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL/FREDDY MAVUNDA
Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL/FREDDY MAVUNDA

Sibanye Gold CEO Neal Froneman is considering moving the SA miner’s primary listing to New York from 2021, after he curbs the company’s debt.

The surge in palladium and rhodium prices has put Sibanye on track to meet its debt-to-earnings target by the end of 2020, Froneman said in an interview at Bloomberg’s office in Johannesburg on Friday.

While the rally has strengthened SA’s platinum industry, power and water shortages, rising crime and onerous regulations are deterring investment, Froneman said.

The plan to move Sibanye’s primary listing isn’t immediate and could still be two years out, after the company has sufficiently paid down its debt.

The move is driven by commercial considerations and shouldn’t be construed as leaving SA, where some of Sibanye’s platinum mines could operate for more than 40 years, Froneman said.

“Looking offshore for growth is just a logical extension of where we are now,” Froneman said.

“No firm decision has been made, but I think if we are to grow, we would have to change our primary listing because there is no real growth in SA.”

Shifting Sibanye’s primary listing would expose the miner to a wider pool of investors and could also allow it to tap cheaper capital, said the CEO, who completed the acquisition of Lonmin Plc in May, less than three years after buying Stillwater Mining in the US.

Record palladium prices have made the Montana-based asset Sibanye’s “crown jewel”, Froneman said.

“If you have a decent international portfolio of assets and you change primary listing, I daresay you get a re-rating because you become more acceptable,” he said.

Palladium broke above $1,800/oz on Monday as stricter air-quality rules increase demand for the metal used in vehicle pollution-control devices.

Sibanye’s shares have surged more than 160% in 2019. Froneman’s deliberations come as AngloGold Ashanti sells its remaining gold assets in SA, viewed as a final step before moving its primary listing from Johannesburg.

Anglo American CEO Mark Cutifani has said there is no shortage of opportunities in SA, but to attract mining investment requires political stability and regulatory clarity. Miners are challenging aspects of the country’s revised mining charter — which seeks to address inequalities resulting from apartheid — in court.

While Sibanye has no intention of exiting SA, some of the charter’s provisions are sending “investors running away”, Froneman said.

“While we have the dispute in court, guess what, no-one is going to invest,” he said.

With Felix Njini, Gordon Bell, Amogelang Mbatha, Liezel Hill, Antony Sguazzin and John McCorry.