[South Africa] Mining: Thousands of jobs, 10 solutions – by Greg Nicolson (Daily Maverick/South Africa – August 27, 2015)


As the country’s economy continues to shrink, a report on Wednesday said mining stakeholders have come up with 10 initiatives to save jobs and ensure the industry remains viable. The agreement is likely to be signed on Monday and could include some novel solutions.

A stakeholder agreement could potentially avert some job cuts in the mining sector as the government, unions and mining companies are expected to commit to interventions next week to help the sector, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

The potential agreement comes after Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi began discussions with industry leaders earlier this month under the auspices of the Mining Industry Growth Development and Employment Task Team to confront plans across the industry to cut jobs and ensure the industry remains sustainable.

“Parties have agreed on the broad framework on interventions to be pursued, and stakeholders have been given an opportunity, over the next few days, to obtain an official mandate from their respective constituencies,” a statement from Ramatlhodi’s spokesperson Mahlodi Muofhe said on Tuesday. The agreement is expected to be signed on Monday.

After the initial discussions, task teams were formed to investigate solutions. According to Reuters, which says it has seen the draft agreement, 10 broad interventions have been proposed. They are reported to include pushing for Brics nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) to treat platinum like gold and hold it as a reserve asset in central banks.

Reuters said there was an agreement to streamline retrenchment processes, which was likely a compromise from unions and the state to avoid immediate job losses. The 10 interventions are also said to include commitments to delay job cuts and sell distressed mines rather than mothball them.

With low commodity prices and rising costs, mining houses recently announced plans to shed thousands of jobs in gold, coal, iron ore and platinum, at companies including Anglo American, Glencore, Kumba Iron Ore, Sibanye Gold and Lonmin.

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