Sibanye-Stillwater announces forceful C-suite sustainability appointment

Melanie Naidoo-Vermaak

Melanie Naidoo-Vermaak

9th January 2024

By: Martin Creamer

Creamer Media Editor


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JOHANNESBURG ( – Johannesburg- and New York-listed mining company Sibanye-Stillwater has appointed Melanie Naidoo-Vermaak as chief sustainability officer, effective January 1.

“Sustainability/ESG is a strategic imperative,” Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman highlighted in announcing Naidoo-Vermaak’s appointment on Tuesday.

In a release to Mining Weekly, Sibanye-Stillwater described its latest C-suite appointment as “a positive contribution in our journey to be a 'Force' for good”, with the word force headed by a capital letter.

Sibanye-Stillwater is a primary producer of platinum, palladium, and rhodium and gold and also a refiner of iridium and ruthenium, nickel, chrome, copper and cobalt.

The company has collaborated highly successfully with Germany’s Heraeus Precious Metals to give green hydrogen generation a major boost through the introduction of a far-reaching iridium-thrifting breakthrough.

The new ruthenium-containing catalyst for proton exchange membrane water electrolysis crucially improves the sustainability of climate-critical hydrogen production by reducing material cost and the reliance on iridium, a highly scarce and expensive platinum group metal (PGM).

Primary production of ruthenium, also a PGM, is three-and-a-half times that of iridium.

Diversification of its asset portfolio into battery metals mining and processing is well under way and circularity is being realised through recycling and tailings reprocessing.

PGM autocatalyst recycling is a hallmark of the group along with expansive mine tailings retreatment operations.

Renewable energy projects are the primary decarbonisation levers of Sibanye-Stillwater, which is targeting carbon neutrality by 2040.

State-owned power utility Eskom contributes the bulk of Sibanye-Stillwater’s Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions and substituting a portion of Eskom supply with renewables is one of the simplest ways of decarbonising for Sibanye-Stillwater.

Three wind energy projects, with a cumulative capacity of 328 MW, as well as 225 MW solar photovoltaic projects to support gold mining and platinum group metals operations, are poised to provide about 25% of Sibanye-Stillwater’s power requirements in South Africa.

As reported by Mining Weekly last month, Sibanye-Stillwater group company DRDGOLD intends advancing its long-standing gold tailings expertise to multicommodity tailings reprocessing and rehabilitation, which will involve unlocking further value from green metals and PGMs.

To do so in the first instance is the opportunity to leverage off Sibanye-Stillwater’s PGM and green metals involvement.

The growth prospects also include unlocking further value from other South African mining companies and defining global destinations where DRDGOLD should operate in future.

In a clean, green energy move, DRDGOLD, headed by CEO Niël Pretorius, in the first quarter of the financial year ending June 30, expended capital of R275.7-million and prepayments towards the development of a solar project of R321.3-million. Interestingly, Froneman currently chairs the World Gold Council, where Pretorius is also a director.

As part of a permanent solution for scarred land, DRDGold moves between 25-million and 30-million tonnes of dumped gold waste material a year, which helps to reverse mining's negative environmental legacy.

DRDGOLD reprocesses tailings at Ergo on the East Rand and at Far West Rand Gold Recoveries on the West Rand.

The operating model involves hydromining discarded mine tailings, pumped as a slurry mix to reduction works through a network of pipelines.

Gold is recovered from the slurry through an extensively automated process and discard tailings are then deposited on a facility of a different design following contemporary management practice.

Reversal of the mining legacy in this way is seen as key in today's world.

Naidoo-Vermaak joins Sibanye-Stillwater from Harmony Gold, where she was sustainable development senior executive.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter



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