Sibanye-Stillwater To Invest US$490 Million To Advance ioneer’s Rhyolite Ridge To Production

Ioneer Ltd is pleased to announce that the Company has reached an agreement to establish a joint venture with Sibanye Stillwater Limited to develop the flagship Rhyolite Ridge Lithium-Boron Project located in Nevada, USA . Under the terms of the agreement, Sibanye-Stillwater will contribute US$490 million for a 50% interest in the Joint Venture, with ioneer to maintain a 50% interest and retain operatorship. ioneer …

Ioneer Ltd (“ioneer” or the “Company”) (ASX: INR) is pleased to announce that the Company has reached an agreement to establish a joint venture (the ” Joint Venture “) with Sibanye Stillwater Limited ( “Sibanye-Stillwater” ) to develop the flagship Rhyolite Ridge Lithium-Boron Project located in Nevada, USA (the “Project” ). Under the terms of the agreement, Sibanye-Stillwater will contribute US$490 million for a 50% interest in the Joint Venture, with ioneer to maintain a 50% interest and retain operatorship. ioneer has also agreed to provide Sibanye-Stillwater with an option to participate in 50% of the North Basin 1 upon the election of Sibanye-Stillwater to contribute up to an additional US$50 million subject to certain terms and conditions.

In addition, the Company has entered into a subscription agreement with Sibanye-Stillwater for a strategic placement of US$70 million of ioneer ordinary shares (the ” Sibanye-Stillwater Placement” ). The placement shares will be issued to Sibanye-Stillwater at ioneer’s 10 day VWAP as of ASX market close on 15 September 2021. The Sibanye-Stillwater Placement is subject to shareholder approval at an Extraordinary General Meeting (” EGM “) of the Company’s shareholders to be held on 21 October 2021 .

Transaction Highlights

  • Transformational strategic investment underpins the quality of Rhyolite Ridge and ioneer’s future as a major lithium and boron producer in the US
  • Sibanye-Stillwater is a US$10 billion global mining company 2 , with a proven track record in large-scale mining projects, and has committed to become an important player in the battery materials supply chain
  • Formation of a joint venture operating committee comprised of ioneer and Sibanye-Stillwater representatives will leverage the deep skillsets of both partners to help deliver the Project
  • Sibanye-Stillwater and ioneer will work collaboratively to secure debt financing for the Project on acceptable terms to ensure the Project is appropriately fully financed to production
  • Proceeds from the Sibanye-Stillwater Placement will be used towards ioneer’s development capital requirement, medium term working capital needs and to progress long-lead items to minimise time to production

James Calaway , Executive Chairman of ioneer commented:

“We are extremely pleased to welcome Sibanye-Stillwater, a leading international mining company, as a strategic partner in the Rhyolite Ridge Project. Sibanye-Stillwater, with its proven track record of developing and operating major mining projects including operations in the United States , its commitment to developing and maintaining an inclusive and sustainable culture, and its determination to become a major force in the battery materials supply chain, is an excellent partner for ioneer to jointly realize the promise of Rhyolite Ridge. With a strong strategic partner in place, we can now look to finalise the debt financing for the Project and move towards construction. We are confident in the alignment of our companies. Our partnership with Sibanye-Stillwater will allow ioneer to unlock the tremendous, long- term value of Rhyolite Ridge.”

Neal Froneman , CEO of Sibanye-Stillwater commented:

“This is Sibanye-Stillwater’s second lithium transaction and third transaction in the battery metals sector, which will be essential for the transition to a cleaner future. We are excited to build a long-term relationship with ioneer, who share our vision of facilitating security of lithium supply to the North American markets. Rhyolite Ridge is a world-class lithium project and we recognize its strategic value, with the potential to become the largest lithium mine in the US. We look forward to working collaboratively with the ioneer team and leveraging our complementary skills and capabilities to ensure this strategically important, world-class project is delivered, and materially contributes to reducing climate change.”

Transaction Details

The key terms of the transaction are summarised below:

  • ioneer will contribute the Project for a 50% interest in the newly created joint venture limited liability company (” JVCo “) and Sibanye-Stillwater will provide US$490 million in direct funding to the Project for 50% of the ordinary units in JVCo
  • ioneer will be the operator of the Project, will enter into a management services agreement with JVCo and will be responsible for the development and subsequent operation of the Project
  • The companies will establish a Technical Committee which will meet regularly to oversee the operations of the Project and an ESG Committee which will collaborate on key initiatives given the importance of ESG to both parties
  • In addition, the companies have agreed to establish a Marketing Committee to leverage each company’s existing relationships to maximise the value of JVCo’s products
  • Establishment of the Joint Venture and Sibanye-Stillwater’s funding commitment is subject to certain terms and conditions precedent, including receipt of final permits, commitments for remaining debt financing, and other customary approvals. ioneer anticipates these conditions precedent to be satisfied during the during second half of calendar year 2022
  • The JVCo transaction is not subject to shareholder approval and is not conditional on ioneer shareholders approving the placement of shares to Sibanye-Stillwater under the Sibanye-Stillwater Placement

Sibanye-Stillwater Placement Details

Under the terms of the Sibanye-Stillwater Placement, Sibanye-Stillwater will subscribe for 145.9 million ordinary shares of ioneer at a price of A$0 .655 (representing the 10-day VWAP as of ASX close on 15 September 2021 ). The issue of shares under the Sibanye-Stillwater Placement would exceed the Company’s existing placement capacity under ASX Listing Rule 7.1 and therefore ioneer will be required to hold an EGM to approve the issue of the shares to Sibanye-Stillwater. The EGM is expected to take place on 21 October 2021 with further details on the EGM to be included in the Notice of EGM that will be despatched to shareholders and published on ASX in the coming days.

The directors unanimously recommend that shareholders at the EGM vote in favour of the issue of shares to Sibanye-Stillwater, and intend to vote the ioneer shares they own and control, or to which the director is appointed as proxy, in favour of such a resolution.

Transaction Advisers

ioneer’s financial adviser is Goldman Sachs, and its legal advisers are Vinson & Elkins ( United States ) and Ashurst ( Australia ).

Sibanye-Stillwater’s financial adviser is Macquarie Capital, and its legal adviser is Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP ( United States ).

About Sibanye-Stillwater

Sibanye-Stillwater is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and New York Stock Exchange (JSE:SSW and NYSE:SBSW) and has a market capitalisation of US$10 billion . Sibanye-Stillwater is one of the world’s largest primary producers of platinum, palladium and rhodium and is also a top tier gold producer, ranking third globally on a gold-equivalent basis. It also produces other PGMs, such as iridium and ruthenium, and chrome, copper and nickel as by-products.

In the United States , Sibanye-Stillwater currently operates three integrated facilities in Montana : the Stillwater and East Boulder PGM mines (78% palladium and 22% platinum) and the Columbus Metallurgical Complex which smelts material mined to produce PGM-rich filter cake and recycles autocatalysts to recover PGMs.

Sibanye-Stillwater has continued to advance its global diversification strategy to encompass the battery metal space by investing in a Finnish lithium hydroxide project in February 2021 . With the acquisition of a 30% shareholding in Keliber Oy, Sibanye-Stillwater now has a substantial interest in the Keliber Lithium Project currently in development phase in the Kaustinen region of Finland . In July 2021 , Sibanye-Stillwater also announced it had entered into an exclusive put option agreement with French mining group Eramet SA for the acquisition of 100% of the Sandouville nickel hydrometallurgical processing facility in Normandy, France . Together with the ioneer Placement, the Rhyolite Ridge Joint Venture represents Sibanye-Stillwater’s third transaction in the battery materials sector following the Sandouville nickel and Keliber lithium transactions in 2021.

The Sibanye-Stillwater Group focusses on embedding and excelling at environmental, social and governance (ESG) matters. Their vision is to create superior value for all stakeholders through the mining of mineral resources. The sustainable management of their operations is integral to their ability to obtain and maintain their social license to operate and generate long-term value for all stakeholders, including employees, the communities where they operate, governments and shareholders.

About ioneer

ioneer Ltd is the 100% owner of the Rhyolite Ridge Lithium-Boron Project located in Nevada, USA , the only known lithium-boron deposit in North America and one of only two known such deposits in the world. The Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) completed in April 2020 confirmed Rhyolite Ridge as a world-class Lithium and Boron Project that is expected to become a globally significant, long-life, low-cost source of lithium and boron vital to a sustainable future.

This ASX release has been authorised by ioneer Managing Director Bernard Rowe .

Contacts:

James Calaway

Bernard Rowe

ioneer Ltd

ioneer Ltd

Executive Chairman

Managing Director

T: +1 713 818 1457

T: +61 419 447 280

jcalaway@ioneer.com

browe@ioneer.com

Matt Dempsey

Jane Munday

FTI Consulting

FTI Consulting

Investor & Media Relations (USA)

Investor & Media Relations (Australia)

T: +1 202 316 9609

T: +61 488 400 248

matt.dempsey@fticonsulting.com

jane.munday@fticonsulting.com

Important notice and disclaimer

Forward-looking statements

This announcement contains certain forward looking statements and comments about future events, including ioneer’s expectations about the Project and the performance of its businesses. Forward looking statements can generally be identified by the use of forward looking words such as ‘expect’, ‘anticipate’, ‘likely’, ‘intend’, ‘should’, ‘could’, ‘may’, ‘predict’, ‘plan’, ‘propose’, ‘will’, ‘believe’, ‘forecast’, ‘estimate’, ‘target’ and other similar expressions within the meaning of securities laws of applicable jurisdictions. Indications of, and guidance on, future earnings or financial position or performance are also forward looking statements.

Forward looking statements involve inherent risks and uncertainties, both general and specific, and there is a risk that such predictions, forecasts, projections and other forward looking statements will not be achieved. Forward looking statements are provided as a general guide only, and should not be relied on as an indication or guarantee of future performance. Forward looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainty and other factors which can cause ioneer’s actual results to differ materially from the plans, objectives, expectations, estimates and intentions expressed in such forward looking statements and many of these factors are outside the control of ioneer. As such, undue reliance should not be placed on any forward looking statement. Past performance is not necessarily a guide to future performance and no representation or warranty is made by any person as to the likelihood of achievement or reasonableness of any forward looking statements, forecast financial information or other forecast. Nothing contained in this announcement nor any information made available to you is, or shall be relied upon as, a promise, representation, warranty or guarantee as to the past, present or the future performance of ioneer.

Except as required by law or the ASX Listing Rules, ioneer assumes no obligation to provide any additional or updated information or to update any forward looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or results, or otherwise.

1 The North Basin is contiguous with ioneer claims in the area but separate from the Rhyolite Ridge Project in the South Basin. The North Basin was not included in the DFS given its different geological setting and early stage exploration status.
2 Market capitalisation as at 14 September 2021

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"Lilac Solutions are actually going to work with us and progressively earn into our flagship Kachi project, and then provide $50 million towards the development of that project. So come the end of October, we should have somewhere around $70 to $80 million in the bank, plus this $50 million commitment from Lilac going forward. And then if we have some additional $75 million options in June next year. Essentially, we can now see a pathway to the entire project being financed," Promnitz said.

Lake Resources and Lilac Solutions signed a partnership agreement wherein Lilac is able to achieve an equity stake in the Kachi project with project funding obligations while providing its leading technology to advance the project.

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Watch the full interview of Lake Resources Managing Director Stephen Promnitz above.

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Gold isn't all that glitters in the land down under — silver in Australia is a major industry, and the country is home to both large and small players.

When it comes to precious metals, Australia has long punched above its weight — the nation was born riding the wave of a gold rush.

Gold isn't all that glitters through — Australia is also a major global producer of silver. It's among the 10 top producers, and was ranked seventh in 2020, with 1,300 tonnes coming from the many operational mines in the country. By comparison, the world's top producer, Mexico, produced 6,300 tonnes that same year.

Other key players in the silver market are Peru, China and Russia, which produce more silver than Australia, and the US, Argentina and Bolivia, which produce less.


Australia is sitting on quite a lot of the precious metal, with the world's second largest reserves, behind only Peru.

According to Geoscience Australia, one of the country's first mines was a silver-lead mine near Adelaide. Since then, the entire continent has been combed over with a fine-toothed comb, with deposits identified in every state and territory and active mines in every jurisdiction but one (Victoria).

Overall, Australia is well explored when it comes to silver, and since the mid-1800s it's had a constant stream of silver production. Aside from that, the country boasts metals-processing facilities in South Australia that separate the precious metal from its commonly mined counterpart metals, lead and zinc.

Silver companies in Australia

Those looking at the Australian silver market have options. There are plenty of big players with interests in Australian silver, and many smaller players for investors to consider researching too.

Most silver comes from mines dedicated to other metals — Glencore's (LSE:GLEN,OTC Pink:GLCNF) Mount Isa in Queensland produces mainly copper, zinc and lead, but silver is separated by the company's integrated processing streams. Glencore also operates the McArthur mine in the Northern Territory, which is primarily zinc, but between its copper and zinc assets, Glencore produced 7,404,000 ounces of silver in Australia in 2020 — over 200 tonnes.

Elsewhere, BHP (ASX:BHP,NYSE:BHP,LSE:BLT) produces a lot of silver as well at the Olympic Dam operation in South Australia. Perhaps best known for the production of uranium and copper, it also yields significant silver resources to the tune of 984,000 ounces in 2020 (or almost 28 tonnes).

According to Geoscience Australia data from 2016, over 20 mines in Australia produced silver in that year, while there are dozens of other resources identified in each state.

A primary producer of silver is the Cannington mine in Queensland, where South32 (ASX:S32,OTC Pink:SHTLF), a company that was spun off from BHP in 2015, mines silver and lead. Cannington is a big one, producing 11,792,000 ounces in 2020, or 334 tonnes of silver.

Tasmania boasts the Rosebery mine, which has seen 85 years of continuous operations and is currently owned by MMG (ASX:MMG,HKEX:1208). Rosebery, like all the others here, is polymetallic, and besides silver also produces copper, zinc, lead and gold. MMG also has the Dugald River mine in Queensland which also produced silver.

Getting into smaller companies, there are those like New Century Resources (ASX:NCZ) which restarted the Century mine in the Northern Territory for zinc and silver.

The future of silver in Australia

So, you get the picture — there's a lot of silver to be mined in Australia by way of mining everything else.

It's worth noting that because silver operates both as a precious and an industrial metal, and is mined most often alongside base metals, it can be pulled in many directions. However, it traditionally follows (and lags behind) its precious metal sibling, gold, making it a valuable investment commodity to keep an eye on.

Looking forward, the future of the commodity in the land down under — especially given Australia's significant reserves and operator diversity — is as bright as you'd like it, and depends on what investors are most interested in, given the by-product nature of the metal.

Don't forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Scott Tibballs, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Australia took a stand against Facebook and Google earlier this year, and the move could have long-term implications for tech investors.

It was a ban that sent Australians wild and had the whole world watching.

Back in February, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) stopped users in Australia from posting news in a week-long blackout, reacting to proposed legislation that would have forced the social media behemoth to pay publishers for content.

What prompted Facebook to "friend" Australia again, and what are the potential long-term implications of the squabble? Read on to learn what tech-focused investors in Australia should know about the situation.


Australia squares off against Facebook

On February 25 of this year, Australia's federal government passed the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code. It was developed after extensive analysis by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, and is aimed at ensuring that news media businesses are fairly remunerated for their content.

It stipulates that digital platforms such as Facebook and Google (both named in the documentation) must pay news outlets whose content they feature — for example, if content is shared on Facebook or shows up in Google search results. The idea is that this will help to sustain journalism in Australia.

Unsurprisingly, Facebook and Google didn't react well to the code, which was first introduced in 2020.

Google didn't make any moves after it passed, but Facebook quickly made it impossible for Australian users to share news content, and pages for both local and international news organisations went blank — a major concern given the COVID-19 and wildfire concerns that were circulating at the time.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was scathing about Facebook's decision — which he ironically shared in a Facebook post — declaring the tech giant's actions "as arrogant as they were disappointing." He added, "These actions will only confirm the concerns that an increasing number of countries are expressing about the behaviour of BigTech companies who think they are bigger than governments and that the rules should not apply to them."

Despite strong feelings from both Australia and Facebook, the dispute was resolved fairly quickly, with the country agreeing to make four amendments to the legislation and Facebook restoring Australian's access to news.

Implications for Big Tech and news organisations

Both Australia and Facebook have claimed victory in the dispute, with a Facebook representative saying the company will be able to decide if news appears on the platform — meaning it won't automatically have to negotiate with any news businesses. Changes were also made to the arbitration process.

Tech experts have pointed out that larger news companies may ultimately benefit from the changes, but smaller ones could be pushed to the side. Major publishers that have struck agreements with tech giants, such as News Corp, Nine Entertainment (ASX:NEC,OTC Pink:NNMTF), Seven West Media (ASX:SWM) and Guardian Australia, may be able to increase their market share while smaller independent players lose out.

A business that is in full support of the laws is Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). During the conflict, President Brad Smith came out loudly in favour of Australia's law, and advised that his company is willing to step up with search engine Bing should Google and/or Facebook pull out of the Australian market.

"In Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pushed forward with legislation two years in the making to redress the competitive imbalance between the tech sector and an independent press. The ideas are straightforward. Dominant tech properties like Facebook and Google will need to invest in transparency, including by explaining how they display news content," he said in a blog post.

"The United States should not object to a creative Australian proposal that strengthens democracy by requiring tech companies to support a free press. It should copy it instead."

Global reach and tech investor impact

Six months down the road from Australia's landmark legislation, it's tough to say what the long-term impact may be.

That said, market watchers do believe the country is part of a new precedent of forcing Big Tech into paying for journalism — something giants Facebook and Google are not used to.

Countries looking to pursue similar legislation include Canada, where Facebook agreed in May to pay 14 publishers to link to their articles on its COVID-19 and climate science pages, as well as other unspecified use cases. Canada is pursuing other avenues too. Meanwhile, in France, Google said it will pay publishers for news content after the country took up new EU copyright laws that make digital platforms liable for infringements.

For investors, the takeaway is perhaps that while companies like Facebook and Google may seem too big too fail, they too can fall subject to new regulations that can change how they do business. As nations around the world look to take back control from these mega companies, it's important to be aware of possible effects on their bottom lines.

Don't forget to follow @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Ronelle Richards, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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