Underlying the cautious optimism creeping into the mining sector are the realities of how difficult it is to mine in SA, with thousands of miners laid off adding to the already burgeoning unemployment crisis. Numerous mining executives have spoken in recent days of a sense of renewed hope and optimism stemming from the tone of the investment conference, the direction President Cyril Ramaphosa wants to take the country and the nature of engagements with Gwede Mantashe, the mineral resources minister since early this year. Last week’s investment conference was notable for the vote of confidence in Ramaphosa from major mining companies. But still, the 13,000 and 1,500 job cuts announced by Impala Platinum and Gold Fields respectively in August and the 12,600 announced by Lonmin at the end of 2017 are proceeding, swelling SA’s unemployment numbers, which grew to 27.5% in the third quarter of 2018.

Gold Fields faces a strike at its South Deep mine, where it wants to cut its workfor...

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