Platinum. Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

SIBANYE Gold’s platinum intentions took an important step forward on Monday, with its shareholders and those of Aquarius Platinum clearing the way for two big deals to progress to the final two hurdles.

Sibanye has agreed to buy three large platinum mines near Rustenburg from Anglo American Platinum for at least R4.5bn, with a R1.5bn upfront cash payment and a minimum R3bn payment later. Owners of 86% of Sibanye’s shares on Monday voted 99.9% in favour of the purchase, which would make the largest producer of South African platinum a serious contender in the platinum sector.

Shareholders in Aquarius Platinum voted in favour of an amalgamation agreement that paves the way for a cash buyout of Aquarius for $294m. Both transactions need approval from the Competition Commission and the Competition Tribunal.

The Amplats transaction needs the approval for the transfer of mining rights to Sibanye by end-June next year. There is no need to apply for a mineral rights transfer for the Aquarius deal because the entire company will be bought.

Asked how much of a risk securing the rights transfer in the targeted time period was for Sibanye, spokesman James Wellsted said it was considered to be a "very low probability outcome. I don’t think it would be a deal-breaker necessarily; we are committed to the transaction so would have to consider the circumstances at the time," he said. "We can extend the period by mutual agreement."

Both Aquarius and Eastern Platinum have seen overtures from Chinese investors for assets fall away because of difficulties in securing regulatory approvals.

A market commentator said there was a new mines minister, Mosebenzi Zwane, and the departure of long-serving director-general Thibedi Ramontja could make the rights transfer more time-consuming.

The Aquarius assets are close to the three mines, two concentrators and chrome recovery plant that Sibanye is buying.

The gold miner has said it will find ways to lower costs across the two suites of assets.