A report from JPMorgan Cazenove on the platinum sector contradicts Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
A report from JPMorgan Cazenove on the platinum sector contradicts Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

Mine closures, job losses and the cutting of hundreds of thousands of platinum ounces will be forced on SA’s beleaguered platinum sector, despite companies’ efforts to keep operations going when more than half the industry is unprofitable.

While Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe said at a platinum conference there was no crisis in the sector — a comment that nearly had Northam Platinum CEO Paul Dunne choke on a breakfast sausage at the event — a report from JPMorgan Cazenove showed just how dire the situation is for SA miners and predicted that the year of change would be in 2020 as efforts to keep unprofitable mines going at enormous expense failed.

Platinum mines employ about 170,000 people, a far cry from 199,948 a decade ago. Lonmin is embarking on cutting 12,600 jobs as it closes old mines, while Impala Platinum (Implats) is reviewing mines in its flagship Impala Lease Area near Rustenburg as it accelerates the closure of old mines by "harvesting" them.

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