Implats to buy Canadian miner for more than R11bn

Impala Platinum [JSE: IMP] (Implats) has announced a deal to buy a Canadian palladium miner for almost R11.5bn.

The 25-year old North American Palladium (NAP) owns the Lac des Iles mine near Thunder Bay, Ontario, as well as two other exploration properties, including the Sunday Lake Project, also in Ontario.

Implats has a 24% share in the project. NAP's Lac des Iles mine is a low-cost platinum group metals (PGM) producer, which is "fully mechanised with a low labour complement", says Implats.

Implats says the deal will help it to move away from high-cost, deep-level conventional mining. "The group is advancing its repositioning into a high-value, profitable and competitive PGM producer with a strong focus on low-risk, shallow, mechanised, palladium-rich assets."

The deal will also diversify its production base geographically, Implats said. Currently, the Implats operations are located in the Bushveld Complex in South Africa and in Zimbabwe.

Implats is offering C$16.00 per share in cash to Brookfield Business Partners, which owns 81% of NAP's shares. It is also making an offer to buy minority shareholders. NAP is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

It said that the restructuring of its Impala Rustenburg operation, as well as other cost savings and the stronger platinum prices, have helped it to fund the deal.

NAP's board of directors have unanimously approved the transaction. Brookfield has also agreed to the deal.

Implats said the deal will have to be approved by authorities, including exchange control approval from the South African Reserve Bank.

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