South African chrome firms warn of more than 1,200 job cuts (Reuters U.S. – January 20, 2020)

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South African chrome firms on Monday warned of more than 1,200 potential job cuts, citing power cuts, rising electricity tariffs and increased competition from overseas.

The potential layoffs highlight the risks posed to Africa’s most industrialized economy by struggling state power utility Eskom, which is struggling with breakdowns at its coal-fired power plants and is mired in a financial crisis.

They also pile more pressure on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government, which is trying to contain 29% unemployment.

Joint venture partners Glencore and Merafe Resources could cut up to 665 jobs and have started consultations with workers at their Rustenburg ferrochrome smelter.

“The consultation process is as a result of deteriorating operations and market conditions across the South African ferrochrome industry, including unsustainable electricity tariffs and interruptions, cross subsidies and real cost inflation,” Merafe said in a statement.

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