Amplats‚ state to resolve differences

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Reuters.

Anglo American Platinum said on Friday it was in discussions with South Africa's government over planned sweeping changes to its business, including 14,000 jobs cuts.

Amplats, the world's biggest producer of platinum, announced the plans to close shafts and cut jobs on Tuesday. South Africa's mining minister responded by accusing the company of betraying the government's trust.

“Amplats and the department of mineral resources have agreed to engage positively during the next 90 days to discuss the business review proposals and to determine how they can best work together to achieve their shared objective for the benefit of all stakeholders,” the company said in a statement.

The company plans to mothball four shafts and sell one of its mines as it struggles to secure its future after several difficult years of a falling platinum price in an over-supplied market.

South Africa is home to 80 percent of the world's platinum deposits but producers have been squeezed by rising input costs that are three times inflation, declining prices, safety stoppages and violent labour strife.

The company's plan to cut jobs risked provoking a repeat of the violent strikes in the gold and platinum sectors last year that left more than 50 people dead and slowed the growth of Africa's largest economy.

A full-blown strike across the company's operations was averted after angered workers returned to work just a day after an illegal walkout.

Amplats said a labour consultation process and industry-wide discussions related to the challenges facing the South African mining industry would run parallel to talks with the mines department.

Shares of Amplats were almost 3 percent higher by late morning after falling more than 6 percent since the announcement. - Reuters and I-Net Bridge


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