Mine closures almost like blackmail – Zuma

2013-02-05 08:36

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President Jacob Zuma has said mining companies were almost engaging in “blackmail” when they announce plans to close mines and lay off workers.

Zuma’s pre-recorded comments broadcast on CNBC Africa yesterday come as the government, unions and the ANC have come out strongly against proposals by Anglo Platinum (Amplats) to mothball two mines and lay off 14 000 workers as it strives to return to profit.

“When the miners say we are cutting down, we are closing ... You see, that is almost blackmail,” Zuma said.

Zuma also said “lower wages in the mining industry has led us into trouble”.

South Africa’s platinum and gold sectors were rocked last year by violent strikes and labour violence that killed over 50 people and hit output.

Amplats, the world’s top platinum producer, said yesterday it had made its first annual loss last year because of the strikes and warned of growing labour unrest.

Zuma’s remarks coincide with the Mining Indaba being held this week in Cape Town.

Separately, Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu told the conference proposals by the ruling ANC to introduce a “resource tax” would be carried out with an intent to keep South Africa competitive among other major mining countries.

“We’ve got to compete with Australia and Canada. So if there are any taxes which must be implemented we must be mindful,” she said.

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