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The new US Inflation Reduction Act offers great opportunities for Sibanye Stillwater’s diversification into battery materials and it may look to add more such assets, CEO Neal Froneman said.

Enacted this month, it includes climate and clean energy policies and rules on electric vehicle (EV) battery materials such as cobalt, lithium, nickel and graphite.

Sibanye, which started acquiring battery mineral assets in 2021, bought half of the Rhyolite Ridge lithium-boron project in the United States last September in a $490-million deal with Australian-listed ioneer.

Froneman said Sibanye, which already had platinum group metal (PGM) operations in Montana, invested in the Rhyolite Ridge project betting on the US ramping up domestic production of battery metals.

“We welcome the Inflation Reduction Act and we see a lot of benefit. Would we like to grow in the US? Absolutely, but that growth will only be if it’s value-accretive and we will look for those solutions,” Froneman said during a results call.

He added that the forecast economic downturn could present Sibanye with opportunities for acquisitions.

Sibanye said it was confident the Rhyolite Ridge project would overcome regulatory hurdles after ioneer submitted a revised project plan that sought to assure US regulators it would not impact the rare Tiehms buckwheat flower found in lithium-rich soils in Nevada.