flying close to the sun
Neal Froneman’s high stakes mining gamble
High off its success in SA’s gold mining sector, Sibanye-Stillwater is unrolling an ambitious plan to become a diversified miner. The dream lives or dies on the platinum price — but CEO Neal Froneman trusts his instincts
Neal Froneman hardly ever looks at the Sibanye-Stillwater share price, even though it is down 55% over the past year. He doesn’t have to. On most days commodity prices, especially platinum, will tell him which way the company stock is moving. It’s these ups and downs that the veteran miner watches closely, every day checking in on the basket price of platinum, rhodium, palladium and gold, to which the fortunes of the company are inevitably tied. Focus has sharpened on Sibanye-Stillwater, not just because of ever-present concern about persistently low metal prices — but also because of its sizable debt, incurred for pricey acquisitions. The once-sacrosanct dividend was withheld this year for the first time, when the company reported a R4.4bn loss for the year ended December 31. Most recently, a spike in fatalities — 21 deaths at Sibanye-Stillwater mines since February — has prompted a government investigation and called into question the future of the company and its high-stakes stra...