Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

Unions at AngloGold Ashanti have demanded that the company account for its compliance with a pledge it signed in 2015 to preserve or even grow jobs in the sector, ahead of formal retrenchment talks next week.

AngloGold announced at the end of June that it planned to retrench workers at mines that had been "significantly" unprofitable since the beginning of 2016. The announcement came as the relationship between the mining sector and the government was put under pressure by the release of a revised Mining Charter. AngloGold has said its decision was unrelated to the charter.

AngloGold wants to put its Kopanang mine in the Vaal River and the Savuka section of the TauTona mine into care and maintenance. As a consequence, it would review its regional costs following "a period of significant and unsustainable losses", it said in June.

The first consultative meeting for retrenchment talks is scheduled for July 14.

On Thursday, the unions met and resolved unanimously that AngloGold must show its compliance with a 10-point plan for sustainability in the mining sector before formal talks got under way.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has decided to fully oppose plans by AngloGold to retrench up to 8,500 mine workers at its operations in North West.

The union resolved on Wednesday to lobby the government and the company not to cut any jobs, because this would impoverish communities and create more mining "ghost towns", NUM co-ordinator at AngloGold Tafa Moya said.

Unions, management and officials from the Department of Mineral Resources met on Thursday in a section 52 consultation. Section 52 of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act requires companies to notify the state of retrenchments so that consultations and possible corrective measures can be undertaken.

The plan that unions want AngloGold to account for was signed in 2015 and aims to curb job losses by finding alternatives to retrenchment or facilitating the sale of distressed assets rather than shutting them.

The parties would meet again to discuss AngloGold’s compliance in the next two weeks, said United Association of SA sector co-ordinator Franz Stehring.

Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane met with AngloGold management last Friday and he subsequently instructed the Minerals and Petroleum Board to verify whether the information provided by the company adequately took into account the commitments it had made to preserve jobs where possible.

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