Sibanye-Stillwater Limited has hinted at the possibility of closing its South African mines in several years due to low returns on investment as it becomes harder to exploit aging assets in the country.
Bloomberg reported the company’s spokesperson James Wellsted as saying that the mines have a finite life. “Some of them are more than 70 years old, so they can’t go on forever,” he said, adding that an investment decision requires “a lot of things and at the moment it’s not warranted, the gold price is not high enough.”
South Africa was once the world’s largest gold producer, but its mines are now old and very deep, making them both difficult and expensive to operate. The Froneman-led miner employs more than 84,500 people and has three gold mines in South Africa — the Beatrix, Driefontein and Kloof mines.
According to Bloomberg, Sibanye-Stillwater may not operate its Beatrix mine beyond five years, its Driefontein mine beyond 2030, and its Kloof mine three years after that.
Sibanye-Stillwater is a South Africa-based mining company founded in 2012 with a diverse portfolio of platinum group metals. It is the world’s largest primary producer of platinum, second-largest primary producer of palladium and third-largest producer of gold.
Sibanye-Stillwater is one of the few South African gold miners left in the country.
Froneman is the CEO of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed multinational.
Sibanye-Stillwater’s Driefontein mine was once Africa’s biggest gold mine. It now stretches four kilometers (2.5 miles) underground.