Royal Bafokeng Platinum says it cannot completely rule out the possibility of retrenchments. Photo: Leon Nicholas/African News Agency (ANA)
JOHANNESBURG - Royal Bafokeng Platinum (RBPlat) said yesterday that it was currently not planning any retrenchments at its operation, but chief executive Steve Phiri said the miner could not completely rule out the possibility.

The platinum industry is struggling to shrug off high costs coupled with subdued platinum prices.

Last week, Impala Platinum (Implats), the world's second largest platinum producer, said it would cut 13000 jobs over two years as part of a strategic restructuring process.

Implats said it had already laid off more than 2000 workers last year.

Lonmin has also said it would cut 3000 jobs in the current financial year as part of its plans to release 12600 workers in the next three years.

“We have done two in two years,” Phiri said. “It might come, you can never say never in this industry.”

Phiri said the industry could, however, benefit from Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe, whom he described as fair. He said unlike under his predecessor, Mosebenzi Zwane, sentiment in the industry had improved under Mantashe.

“We have seen things normalising quite substantially since the departure of the other gentleman (Zwane),” Phiri said.

“Most of the visits (Section 54) we got last year, particularly in the fourth quarter of the year, had nothing to do with safety concerns, but rather had more to do with protecting the interests of the Indian family (Guptas).”

In October the mid-tier platinum group metals producer was ordered by mining inspectors to suspend operations at its North shaft, the second such closure in about a week.

At the time unions and other role-players said the closure of the shafts was a retaliatory move after the mine terminated a contract with a Gupta-owned company.

RBPlat said its net revenue improved 4.1percent during the period from R1.5billion in the first half of 2017 to R1.6bn for the first half of this year, while gross profit margin increased from 0.7percent in the comparative period to 9.4percent for the six months under review.

The group said Styldrift production levels and delivered grades continue to improve as ramp-up progresses towards achieving the 150000 tons per month production milestone during the fourth quarter of 2018.

“Good progress has also been made with the rehabilitation and construction of Silo 4 which, as explained in our 2017 integrated report, had been impacted by worse than expected geotechnical conditions,” said outgoing chief financial officer Martin Prinsloo.

Last month, RBPlat appointed a new chief financial officer and executive director. Hanré Rossouw will take over from October 1. Prinsloo resigned in April, having been in the position since March 2009.

RBPlat declined 3.81percent on the JSE yesterday to close at R25.

-BUSINESS REPORT