Marikana shaft closures puts thousands of jobs on the line
JOHANNESBURG – More than 5 000 jobs are on the line at Sibanye-Stillwater as the company restructures and closes some shafts at its Marikana operation and associated services which were previously under Lonmin in North West province.
Sibanye said about 5 270 jobs, consisting of 3 904 employees and 1 366 contractors, were expected to be lost due to the restructuring.
The miner said this was pursuant to ongoing financial losses experienced at these operations with certain shafts having reached the end of their economic reserve lives.
This comes as Sibanye and the Association of Mineworkers Union (Amcu) – the majority union in the platinum sector – are at loggerheads over salary demands at the platinum bargaining council ad the union demands R1 500 increase for three years.
Sibanye currently employs over 88 000 people in South Africa following its merger with Lonmin, and is one of the largest employers in the domestic mining industry.
It believes that the restructuring will result in the rationalisation of overheads and the realisation of other synergies and efficiencies required to restore profitability and ensure the sustainability of the remaining shafts at the Marikana operations.
The group proposes to place on care and maintenance loss-making of operations at the East 1 (E1), West 1 (W1) and Hossy shafts and the open-cast operations.
Sibanye will enter into a formal Section 189 consultation process with affected stakeholders to consider measures to avoid and mitigate possible retrenchments and seek alternatives to the potential cessation or downscaling of operations at the affected shafts.
This follows a three month review of the Marikana operation by Sibanye, post the R5.2 billion Lonmin acquisition becoming effective in June.
The six month moratorium on forced retrenchments imposed by the Competition Commission Appeal Court when Sibanye acquired Lonmin will lapse on 7 December.
However, Sibanye said the amount of job reductions was significantly less than previously communicated by Lonmin in 2017 as a result of an improved platinum group metals commodity price environment.
Sibanye chief executive Neal Froneman, said the proposed restructuring was contemplated to ensure the sustainability of the Marikana operation, which is not a going concern as an independent entity.
"Whilst the review process concluded that certain shafts, most of which were at the end of their operating lives, would be affected, other shafts which had previously been at risk such as 4B shaft, K3 mining into Siphumelele ground, Roland mining into MK2 ground as well as K4 concentrator, will continue to operate, thereby lessening potential job losses,".
"Overall, the outcome will be a more sustainable business which is able to secure employment for the majority of the Marikana workforce for a much longer period."
Amcu was not immediately available for comment as it was preparing a response to Sibanye's announcement.
But last week, Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa said the organisation wanted to take mines which had indicated a shut down might be imminent, because "the minerals belong to our people and government is just the custodian".