Sibanye-Stillwater is among the bidders vying for the struggling Zambia’s Mopani Copper Mines’ assets, which are seen as critical to the green economy as the world transitions from environmentally damaging fossil fuels.
A successful bidder could be announced any time this month after a delay in finalising the adjudication process.
It has also been revealed that metals processing group Jubilee Metals has partnered with MCM in a project seeking to produce copper and cobalt from retreating mining waste.
The joint venture (JV) comes at a critical time for the loss-making state-owned MCM, which is looking for a strategic investor.
For London and JSE-listed Jubilee, the JV gives it an opportunity to showcase its ability to retreat waste materials and turn them into assets.
Jubilee and MCM will appoint a special-purpose vehicle to facilitate the JV for processing the slag at the MCM facility in Mufulira. Its mandate could also be expanded to incorporate the treatment of material from tailing dumps and oxide ore sourced from small-scale miners.
The overarching strategy is to extract value from MCM plants under care and maintenance.
Under the targeted JV, Jubilee is exclusively appointed to design, implement and operate the new processing facility with the first right to fund the implementation of the project in collaboration with MCM.
The supervisory board made up of representatives from both companies will also be formed to oversee the JV.
“This slag project not only offers further scale to our current project portfolio but also high-value metal content material,” Jubilee CEO Leon Coetzer said in a statement on Tuesday.
“The project holds the potential to accelerate investment into the Mufulira area, which will benefit not only the JV partners but all stakeholders.”
He added that the project formed part of a greater waste recovery initiative championed by Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema to achieve 3 million tonnes of copper output per annum.
Its shares rose 2% to R1.35 in midafternoon trade on the JSE, but are down almost 40% so far in 2023.
In June, Jubilee entered into a new partnership agreement to expand its chrome footprint and platinum group metals feed in SA.
Jubilee aims to grow its local operational footprint by almost two-thirds over the next two years to reach a production rate of 2 million tonnes per year.
The agreement — set down for six years with the option of another four — will see the company being appointed as the exclusive process solution provider committed to retrofitting and operating an existing chrome processing facility, located adjacent to the chrome ore producer.
By: Anthony Dube