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Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA
Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

Mining giant Sibanye-Stillwater said on Friday it had concluded the retrenchment process at its Kloof 4 shaft in Gauteng, cutting fewer jobs than initially planned following consolation with organised labour.

The platinum and gold miner said 1,057 workers had accepted transfers to fill vacant positions at its SA gold operation while 550 at Kloof 4 were granted voluntary severance packages (VSPs) and 348 across its SA gold operations took early retirement packages.

Sibanye CEO Neal Froneman said regrettably, 575 employees could not be accommodated in the agreed avoidance measures, and will be retrenched.

“While the decision to close or restructure operations is never taken lightly, the closure of Kloof 4 shaft was necessary to curb ongoing financial losses. The section 189 consultation process encouragingly achieved this required outcome while also reducing the number of retrenchments. We acknowledge and thank all stakeholders for their constructive engagement,” Froneman said.

Kloof is a large, shallow to ultradeep-level gold mining and processing operation in the Far West Rand Goldfields of the Witwatersrand Basin. It has recorded losses even with the recent high gold prices, the firm said when it announced the process in September.

Kloof 4 shaft produces an average of about 300kg of gold per month or 3,600kg annually, which accounts for about 14% of annual production from the SA gold operations.

The company said in September a possible restructuring of the Kloof 4 shaft could affect 2,389 employees and 581 contract employees at Kloof 4 shaft, meaning more than a thousand jobs have been saved through the consultation process.

Organised labour will hope for a similar outcome at Sibanye’s platinum operations. The group said in October it may retrench up to 8.6% of the workforce within its main SA platinum group metals (PGM) operations, laying bare the crippling effect of falling commodity prices over the past 18 months.

Sibanye is one of the world’s biggest PGM producers, along with Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum (Implats) and Northam.

At least 4,000 of Sibanye’s total workforce of 46,432 employees in its local PGM operations could be without jobs at the end of the restructuring exercise, which will affect four of its shafts in Rustenburg in the North West. Negotiations at its PGM business are ongoing.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) says the raft of retrenchment notices issued by mining houses in recent months could result in about 10,000 job losses by January.

The union, which is affiliated to Cosatu, held its national executive committee meeting last week at which it reflected on the jobs bloodbath in the sector, which has faced major challenges in the past 18 months.

These include falling commodity prices, rolling power cuts and reduced exports as a result of the dysfunction at Transnet.

Several mining companies, including Glencore andImplats have recently issued section 189 notices.

On Monday, Bakubung Platinum Mine joined these ranks, announcing that nearly 600 jobs are on the line, which will wipe out most of its 761 staff complement.

Wesizwe Platinum, which owns Bakubung, said on Monday that it will enter into negotiations with organised labour about restructuring of the mine but gave a dim outlook.

With Katharine Child

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