Johannesburg, South Africa — 13 May 2013 – Anglo American Platinum Limited (Amplats) “’ the world’s biggest producer of the precious metal “’ has sought to appease government anger by scaling back planned job losses at its South African mines to about 6,000, less than half of the 14,000 originally planned.
The new proposal will see three shafts in the Rustenburg region being idled rather than four, with production capacity to be cut by 350,000oz, less than the 400,000oz first announced, the Johannesburg-based unit of Anglo American plc (AAL) announced in a statement quoted by Bloomberg News. “The plans will now be taken to unions,” said CEO Chris Griffith.
Mine workers at Amplats reportedly did not expect any retrenchments and are set to hold a mass meeting to plan their next move reports Fin24, quoting Reuters.
“Everyone is surprised,” said Sphamandla Makhanya, a worker committee member at Amplats. “We were not expecting any retrenchment at all. We can’t allow this.”
“But before we do anything, we are going to have a mass meeting with the workers to decide what to do next,” Makhanya said.
For Amplats, reining in costs and cutting production enough to raise the global price of platinum is crucial to getting back to profit.
The company said it would now aim to produce 2.2 to 2.4Mozpa, up from the 2.1 to 2.3Mozpa targeted in the original plan. The revisions should deliver US$423 million in savings by 2015.
The company will now have talks with unions and chief executive Chris Griffith said this process was expected to take an additional two to three months.
Hours before the announcement, workers signalled that they would launch protest strikes even if the job cuts fall far short of the initial target.
Activists from the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) in Rustenburg said they would not tolerate any job losses. Amcu emerged as the dominant union in the platinum shafts last year after a bloody tussle that saw it poach tens of thousands of members from the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).
Meanwhile the NUM has also stated that it will oppose the revised retrenchment of 6,000 workers at the Amplats mine.
“The NUM is opposed to any retrenchment irrespective of the numbers involved. The union is highly perturbed by Anglo’s decision to bypass the stakeholder meetings scheduled for next week and go ahead with such an announcement,” NUM general secretary Frans Baleni said in a statement.
“The NUM will do everything within the framework of the law to oppose these retrenchments and is determined to even mobilise for a strike to show its disapproval,” he added.
Source: Bloomberg News, Fin24. For more information, click here.