Sibanye Gold in talks about possible job cuts

2014-09-12 12:40

Sibanye Gold said it was starting talks with unions and other stakeholders about possible job cuts at its Cooke 4 mine to boost profits and productivity.

Sibanye today said it had entered “into section 189 consultations on the future of the Cooke 4 mine” – a reference to a legal requirement that companies must talk with organised labour and other affected parties in advance about potential layoffs.

Reuters reported yesterday that Sibanye planned to cut up to 2 500 jobs at Cooke 4, near the town of Westonaria.

The company has a workforce of about 39 000, plus 5 000 contractors.

Sibanye spokesperson James Wellsted said it was premature to talk about precisely how many jobs might be on the line.

“We do not know how many people will be laid off, the 2 500 number is roughly the number of employees at Cooke 4,” Wellsted said.

“The idea is to enter discussions with unions and all employees to try and avoid any retrenchments if possible.”

Sibanye said it needed to find “sustainable solutions to ensure delivery of the required productivity and profitability levels at the Cooke 4 mine”.

Wellsted said Cooke 4 had been affected by government-ordered safety stoppages and its productivity had suffered.

He said a similar process last year at its Beatrix West mine, in the Free State, where an underground fire hit output and revenue, led to under 100 job losses as employees were redeployed to other parts of the company and the operation was restored to profitability.

SBG Securities mining analyst David Davis said Sibanye had acquired the Cooke assets, which include underground and surface operations, primarily for the above-ground remining of waste dumps which has become profitable.

“The underground mines are marginal at current gold prices and Cooke 4 is extremely marginal,” Davis told Reuters.

The National Union of Mineworkers, the biggest union at Sibanye, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Sibanye has been a star performer with a share price that has almost doubled since it debuted in February of 2013.

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