JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Miner Impala Platinum (IMPJ.J) will slash about a third of its workforce over two years in one of the biggest rounds of job cuts by one mining company in living memory in South Africa as the platinum industry faces a day of reckoning.
The number of platinum miners employed in South Africa, the world’s largest producer of the precious metal, has fallen from a peak of almost 200,000 in 2008 to 175,000 in the face of depressed prices and soaring costs, fuelling labour and social unrest.
Job cuts are politically sensitive in the country and Mines Minister Gwede Mantashe, a gruff former trade unionist, called Implats’ announcement on Thursday “a clear example of a company that is careless…Their reckless actions add injury to insult”.
Mantashe urged Implats in a statement “to reconsider its actions” but there seems little the government can do, with a clear legal framework companies can follow before they embark on large-scale staff cuts, which includes consultations with unions.
Implats’ planned job cuts are focusSed on its labour-intensive, conventional Rustenburg operations, where the number of shafts will be reduced to six from 11 with production cut to 520,000 ounces per annum from 750,000 ounces.