Johannesburg, South Africa — 30 May 2012 – Impala Platinum (Implats) says it is seeking a fresh agreement on how it recognises unions at its Lease Area mine in an effort to halt five months of labour unrest “’ a period that may slash full-year output by 200,000oz.
“We hope to establish an interim committee and bring the parties together to formulate rules, rather than the ‘winner takes all’ approach,” Miningmx quoted Implats CEO David Brown as saying. He was responding to questions following a presentation of Implats’ third- quarter production figures, where he indicated the Lease Area might only produce some 750,000oz for the year. It normally produces about 950,000ozpa, enough to make it contribute roughly half of total Implats output.
A revised labour recognition scheme is in the wake of revelations that the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) suffered 10,813 resignations among the mine’s 30,000- strong mine complement at the Lease Area, of which roughly 22,000 were unionised. Rival union, the Associated Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), has claimed 8,000 in new members.
These figures were being verified by an independent third party, a process that could take three weeks, said Implats labour relations spokesman Johan Theron.
However, the legislative process of recognising a new union, which would require AMCU to show it had more than 50% of total unionised staff at the mine, could take five months or more. As a result, Implats wanted to establish “a multi-target recognition agreement sooner rather than later”. “We’re trying to get the parties all in to one room,” commented Brown, who said he thought positions would soften when membership figures became visible to all parties.
AMCU has seized the initiative in labour-employee relations at the mine in controversial style because it was blamed for intimidating tactics. There have been several violent incidents at the Lease Area, where it’s thought NUM representatives have been bullied from their posts and have almost no influence on the ground.
Analysts expressed concern that AMCU, as a majority union, would effectively signal a period of volatile labour relations at the Lease Area. Already, production at the Lease Area was 120,000 oz lower owing to the strike alone, resulting in a revenue loss of an estimated R2.5 billion. In fact, production was still ramping up following the strike with capacity set for June. Capital expenditure plans at the Lease Area had not been affected, however, Brown said.
But there was a structural cost effect. Brown estimated that labour-related costs could be as much as 1.5% higher, topping out at 10.5% for the year, after Implats had agreed to promote rock drill operators (RDOs), and implement several months early their annual increase, the second part of the two-year instalment agreed in 2010.
Source: Miningmx. For more information, click here.