Bank warns of thousands of platinum job losses

2013-06-18 13:05

Up to 145 500 jobs and 60% of South Africa’s platinum output could be a risk in coming years amid unrest and upheavals in the sector, economists at Nomura bank have warned.

Analysts at the Japanese bank said that rising mining costs – because of wage increases, regulation, increased electricity prices and a need to drill deeper – as well as political risks, would force mines to cut their losses.

They paint a bleak picture of the economically vital sector, in the wake of violence in Marikana last August which claimed 36 lives on one day.

“There are around 24 000 jobs at risk next year... the number rises to 121 500 in 2015. This is a huge number, both in absolute and political terms.”

This potential impact on jobs extends way beyond current plans from leading global producer, Anglo American Platinum, to cut around 6 000 jobs in the country.

The company had originally planned to cut 14 000 but backed down amid fierce pressure from government, which faces elections in 2014.

Nomura said that the revisions created a “pressure cooker” effect, “reinforcing increasing losses on mines and we assume job losses will occur in the end anyway.”

The firm predicted major job cuts would wait until after the elections.

Any cuts in production or labour unrest would have a major impact on platinum markets and lives in the restive platinum belt in the north of the country.

South Africa is home to more than three quarters of the world’s known platinum reserves.

Platinum group metals are used in catalytic converters and jewellery.

Next year Nomura forecasts that 14% of South African output could be at risk because of labour problems and 59% the following year.

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