File photo: African News Agency (ANA)
JOHANNESBURG – Sibanye-Stillwater is set to cut nearly 7 000 jobs at its operations in South Africa as part of a potential restructuring plan that will add to the mining industry’s jobs bloodbath and flies in the face of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ambition to create jobs.

The JSE-listed mining company yesterday said that it had embarked on a consultative process with organised labour on the possible restructuring of its loss-making Beatrix and Driefontein operations.

It said the formal engagement had become unavoidable as numerous initiatives to contain losses at these operations had failed.

The group said about 5 870 full-time employees and 800 contractors would be affected by the restructuring.

Chief executive Neal Froneman said the decision to offload jobs was not taken lightly.

“Our best attempts to address the ongoing losses at these operations have, however, been unsuccessful and sustaining these losses may threaten the viability of our other operations,” Froneman said in a statement.

The planned job cuts come months after Ramaphosa hosted an inaugural Jobs Summit as well as a high-level investment indaba as part of his attract investments and save jobs.

Last year, Impala Platinum, the world’s second-biggest platinum producer, said it would cut its workforce by 13000 employees. Lonmin, the world’s third biggest platinum producer, expects to cut 12600 jobs, while Gold Fields cut 1560 jobs last year at its loss-making South Deep Mine after numerous attempt at restoring the operation came to naught.

The Department of Mineral Resources said yesterday it would engage Sibanye-Stillwater regarding the restructuring.

“The department will engage with stakeholders in line with section 52 of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, which requires that the company explore all possible options to ensure as many jobs as possible are saved during the restructuring,” said the department.

Sibanye-Stillwater’s Beatrix, Kloof and Driefontein operations have been rocked by a protracted strike by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) to demand higher wages. The strike began on November 21.

An industry insider, who asked to remain anonymous, said the strike was the final straw for Sibanye.

“The company is saying enough is enough of the protracted strike, which is endangering its gold mines,” the person said.

Trade union Solidarity blamed Amcu for the looming job cuts.

Solidarity general secretary Gideon du Plessis maintained that Amcu's destructive strike pointed to poor negotiators.

“Amcu has now dumped thousands of people into poverty. Apart from the job losses, a number of people have been murdered and numerous houses have been burnt down, which is directly related to the strike,” Du Plessis said.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said it had yet to receive notification of the proposed restructuring from Sibanye-Stillwater.

NUM’s treasurer-general, Mpho Phakedi, said: “We are very worried. The retrenchments defeat the purpose of the march against job losses,” referring to Cosatu’s national march against job losses held on Wednesday.

NUM president Joseph Montisetse said two members were killed while waiting at a bus stop at Sibanye-Stillwater’s Beatrix Mine in Welkom on Tuesday.

Sibanye-Stillwater shares rose 1.60percent on the JSE yesterday to close at R14.65.

BUSINESS REPORT