FILE PHOTO: South Africa's Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane looks on during the reopening of the Highveld Steel heavy structural mill at Emalahleni in Mpumalanga province
Mineral Resources Minister, Mosebenzi Zwane, on Friday instructed the Minerals and Petroleum Board to verify whether the information provided by AngloGold Ashanti that it plans to retrench more than 8000 workers took into consideration industry commitments to save jobs.

This comes after AngloGold Ashanti said recently that it had started a consultation process with employees to retrench 8500 workers at its South African operations. AngloGold Ashanti employs about 28000 people, including contractors.

Zwane said the instruction to verify this information was to ensure that the proposed actions by Anglo Gold Ashanti took into account the commitments made in the Stakeholder Declaration signed by industry stakeholders to save jobs.

Zwane met with the chief executive of AngloGold Ashanti, Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan, and his executives on Friday.

“We continue to appeal to companies to act responsibly and with sensitivity. These are not just numbers to be thrown around, but people’s livelihoods and future job prospects, and we should not take this matter lightly,” Zwane said.

More information on the latest round of retrenchments is expected to be made available after the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration appoints a facilitator for the process in terms of the Labour Relations Act (LRA).

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Zwane also reminded companies that the Section 52 process in terms of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA), and Section 189 process of the LRA should be adhered to, in order to avoid the creation of uncertainty in the industry.

Section 52 of the MPRDA states that the holder of a mining right remains responsible for the implementation of the processes provided in the LRA pertaining to the management of downscaling and retrenchment, until the Minister of Mineral Resources has issued a closure certificate to the holder concerned.

Anglo Gold Ashanti wants to place on care and maintenance the Kopanang mine in the Vaal River region, and the Savuka section of the TauTona mine, in the West Wits Region. Savuka has been in operation for 59 years, and has already been extended 10 years beyond its natural life. Kopanang Mine produced its first gold in 1981.