In unusually frank comments from gold and platinum mining CEOs, the future of those two industries was mapped out in just a few minutes, with bleak consequences for their workforces. At the Joburg Indaba mining conference, industry veterans and top CEOs, with Chris Griffith and Nico Muller heading the world’s two largest platinum producers in Anglo American Platinum and Impala Platinum (Implats) respectively, and Peter Steenkamp from Harmony Gold, outlined a future without new deep-level, conventionally operated, labour-intensive mines. Muller and Steenkamp were unflinching in their appraisal of their respective sectors, either ruling out any new deep-level shafts in platinum or calling the end of SA’s once world-dominant gold sector — just a tiny handful of mines will still operate in a decade, having been the bedrock of SA’s economy for a century. Employment in the gold sector dived to 112,000 last year from nearly 400,000 jobs in 1994 as production plunged from 583 tons over the ...

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