Gold mining bloodbath continues as Sibanye eyes 7 400 job cuts

Cape Town – The mining bloodbath is continuing, with Sibanye on Thursday announcing a restructuring plan that could see about 7 400 jobs being cut.

The miner, which employs 58 000 workers in South Africa, announced restructuring plans at its Beatrix West and Cooke operations.

Sibanye had to stop its operation for the month of June due to an illegal strike. Following this, it dismissed 99 employees and placed 407 employees on final warnings.

On Thursday, Sibanye said about 7 400 Sibanye employees at all levels may be affected as a result of the proposed restructuring.

“The decision to commence with this restructuring process has not been taken lightly,” said Sibanye CEO Neal Froneman.

“The long-term sustainability of the group as a whole is our primary focus and is necessary if we are to continue to deliver superior value to all of our stakeholders.

“The losses experienced at the Beatrix West and Cooke operations threaten the future of other group operations and the employment of many other South Africans.

“We are however aware of the difficult socio-economic environment in South Africa, and will engage with all relevant stakeholders in an effort to minimise job losses, while ensuring that additional jobs are not placed at risk in future.”

The announcement follows AngloGold Ashanti’s retrenchment process, which will see 8 500 workers being retrenched. It revealed on Wednesday that they have set aside R625m in non-cash provisions for this process.

On Monday, the NUM bemoaned the fact that 80 000 jobs have been shed in the last five years, and said it would oppose all future retrenchments. The union is disappointed that the government has not done more to prevent the bleeding of jobs.

"We will fight tooth and nail with the necessary vigour against these mining companies," said NUM general secretary Kolekile Sipunzi.

But the Chamber of Mines hit back, saying that the mining companies are not NUM's enemy. It said it welcomed better cooperation to save jobs, but that the mining sector is becoming increasingly difficult to operate.

Between 2014 and 2016, the industry made an accumulative net loss of around R50bn, the chamber said. And between 2012 and 2016, the industry lost about 70 000 jobs as it struggled to remain viable.

"Increasing cost pressures such as the steep increase in the price of electricity, increased labour costs and the increased cost of materials have served to undermine the sector."

Under these circumstances, mining companies have been compelled to restructure to ensure their survival, the chamber said.

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