WESTONARIA, South Africa (Reuters) – South African precious metals producer Sibanye-Stillwater confirmed on Wednesday that it had laid off more than 2,000 gold miners as it shuts its loss-making Cooke shafts where illegal mining syndicates have plagued its operations.
Layoffs are a thorny political and social issue in South Africa, where the jobless rate is close to 28 percent and labor groups including the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) are allies of the ruling African National Congress (ANC).
The NUM, which plans to hold a rally on Wednesday to protest the job cuts, announced the retrenchments on Tuesday.
“Unfortunately it was not possible to define realistic arrangements to operate Cooke 1,2 and 3 on a profitable basis,” Sibanye said in a statement.
Sibanye has said it aims to not produce unprofitable ounces and that it expects a loss this year of at least 4.6 billion rand ($325 million) compared with attributable earnings of 3.7 billion rand last year due to of impairments and restructuring.