AngloGold Ashanti announced it would spend $500million (R5.83billion) to reopen its Obuasi mine in Ghana. Picture: Bloomberg News
JOHANNESBURG - Gold miner AngloGold Ashanti, the world’s third-largest gold producer, yesterday announced plans to retrench 2000 workers in South Africa, following the sale of the Kopanong and Moab mines in February and the closure of TauTona Mine last year.

AngloGold, which currently employs approximately 8200 people, has commenced a consultation process with employees in line with section 189 and 189A of the Labour Relations Act, chief operating officer Chris Shepherd said yesterday. He said the reduced operating footprint in South Africa necessitated the move.

“These are overhead jobs and there are some on-mine jobs too,” he said.

He said AngloGold’s operations in South Africa had been reduced to 13percent of total production, which had prompted the company to cut its costs related to non-core assets. He was speaking after the annual general meeting of the Chamber of Mines, which was yesterday renamed Minerals Council South Africa.

In a statement yesterday, AngloGold said restructuring would affect employees across the different categories and levels, including executive committee and senior management in South Africa.

The company said it had signalled to its stakeholders in June last year and through its first quarter market update that the restructuring of the asset portfolio in South Africa was still under way “to ensure that both the on and off-mine cost structures are appropriate for the size of the smaller production base in the country.”

The company said it had reduced its production in South Africa by about 50percent, through the sale of the Kopanang and Moab Khotsong Mines and the closure of the TauTona mine. AngloGold Ashanti sold Moab Khotsong to Harmony Gold Mining for $300million (R3.77billion), while Hong Kong-based capital management company Heaven-Sent Sunshine Investment Company bought the Kopanang mine for R100m.

AngloGold’s remaining South African assets included the Mponeng underground gold mine near Carletonville, west of Johannesburg, and a surface operation, “both of which have the potential for long lives,” the company said.

Compared

AngloGold said its all-in costs of the South African business in the first quarter of this year was $1361, compared to a gold price of $1330 an ounce in the same period.

It said the consultation with unions, facilitated by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, was aimed at ensuring the overall viability of the company’s remaining assets in South Africa, while minimising job losses.

The company said it had notified the Department of Mineral Resources’ mining sustainability and employment committee in terms of section 52 of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) yesterday confirmed that it had received a Section 189 notice from AngloGold Ashanti to retrench 2000 mineworkers in all its operations in South Africa.

“The NUM is shocked that AngloGold Ashanti is likely to retrench such a huge number of workers. This is the same company that took a decision to retrench 849 mineworkers in January 2017 and also in June 2017, where they took a decision to retrench 8500 mineworkers,” the union said.

- BUSINESS REPORT