Mine workers walk past the pit head at Sibanye Gold’s Masimthembe shaft in Westonaria. Picture: Reuters
CAPE TOWN - The retrenchment bloodbath continued after Sibanye Gold said yesterday that 7400 jobs were on the line as it planned to restructure its loss making Beatrix West and Cooke operations.

The retrenchments at Sibanye, South Africa’s biggest gold producer, follow similar plans by AngloGold Ashanti, the world’s third biggest gold producer, which said last month 8500 jobs would be lost as it considered placing some of its ageing domestic operations on care and maintenance.

Bokoni Platinum Mine in Limpopo also announced last month that it would retrench 2651 employees .

Sibanye said yesterday that it would enter into consultation with its stakeholders in terms of section 189A of the Labour Relations Act to consider alternatives to the potential closure of the operations in an attempt to avoid or reduce retrenchments.

It said the section 189 consultations followed numerous failed attempts to contain losses at these operations.

It also said losses experienced at the operations had negatively affected the group’s cash flow, the sustainability and economic viability of other of its operations in the Southern Africa region.

The continued losses also posed a threat to more sustainable employment across the region.

Sibanye chief executive, Neal Froneman, said the decision to restructure the operation had not been taken lightly.

“The long-term sustainability of the group as a whole is our primary focus and is necessary if we are to continue to deliver superior value to all of our stakeholders.

Threatened future

“The losses experienced at the Beatrix West and Cooke operations threaten the future of other group operations and the employment of many other South Africans,” Froneman said. The job losses comes as South Africa slipped into a technical recession and the unemployment rate reached a 13-year-high of 27.7percent in the first quarter.

“We are, however, aware of the difficult socio-economic environment in South Africa and will engage with all relevant stakeholders in an effort to minimise job losses, while ensuring that additional jobs are not placed at risk in future,” Froneman said.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM said there could be even more job cuts at Sibanye because the number excluded close to 3000 contractors who are also facing retrenchments.

“The NUM strongly condemns in the strongest words possible the blackmail unleashed by mining companies led by Sibanye Gold, AngloGold Ashanti and Bokoni Platinum mine in announcing these massive retrenchment,” said Kenneth Buda, the NUM’s mining co-ordinator at Sibanye Gold.

“The jobs bloodbath is a clear attack on the working class, communities and the poor, a direct attack on mine workers in particular.”Sibanye was established after Gold Fields unbundled its ageing South African operations. It listed in 2013.

The NUM said on Monday that the mining industry had shed 80000 jobs in the past five years.

Sibanye’s share price yesterday gained 0.85% to close at R17.88 on the JSE.