South African giant mining firm to cut over 6,000 jobs

Workers drive past a sign of the Sibanye-Stillwater Driefontein gold mine near Carletonville, near Johannesburg, on May 5, 2018. - An earthquake that hit the South African gold mine claimed a total of seven lives, its owner said on May 5, after rescue operations were completed at the site outside Johannesburg. The epicentre of the 2.2-magnitude quake was close to where the miners were working on May 3, and 13 employees were trapped about three kilometres (two miles) below the surface. (Photo by MUJAHID SAFODIEN / AFP)

South African gold mining giant Sibanye-Stillwater announced plans Thursday to shed more than 6,000 jobs, or 10 percent of its workforce, from underperforming gold mines.

The company is one of the biggest employers in the South African mining industry, and job cuts are politically sensitive ahead of May general elections in a country where more than a quarter of the workforce are unemployed.

Sibanye-Stillwater said five shafts at its Beatrix and Driefontein operations made financial losses last year despite efforts to turn things around.

It has therefore initiated the process to lay off 5,870 full-time and 800 casual workers.

“Contemplating potential restructuring of this nature is never taken lightly,” said the company’s CEO Neal Froneman.

“Our best attempts to address the ongoing losses at these operations, have however been unsuccessful and sustaining these losses may threaten the viability of our other operations,” he said.

The targeted workers are employed at Beatrix mine, in the central Free State province, and at Driefontein, north of the economic hub Johannesburg.

Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe urged talks to save as many jobs as possible.

Gold was for many decades the backbone of South Africa’s economy, but production has declined sharply due to depletion of reserves.

Sibanye-Stillwater bought most of its gold mines in 2012 from Gold Fields, one of the oldest gold mines in South Africa.

Gold Fields said last August it was planning to cut 1,100 workers, about the same time that platinum miner Implats said it would slash some 13,000 jobs in South Africa.

On Wednesday, thousands of South African workers staged nationwide demonstrations to protest against high unemployment, saying that 9.3 million employable people needed jobs.

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© Agence France-Presse


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