Cape Town - The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) will work with AngloGold Ashanti [JSE:ANG] and government to avoid job losses, it said on Wednesday.
The world’s third-largest gold producer, with about 28 000 employees in South Africa, announced last week that it has initiated a retrenchment process that could see 8 500 workers lose their jobs.
NUM's Shaft Stewards Council at the mine met in Carletonville and they resolved to oppose the planned retrenchments.
"The planned retrenchments will create more unemployment, increase poverty in the mining communities and create ghost towns with no hope to human dignity," NUM spokesperson Livhuwani Mammburu said in a statement.
AngloGold Ashanti said last week the retrenchments is part of restructuring certain of its loss-making operations, following a review.
"This is a difficult decision which follows a period of significant and - ultimately - unsustainable losses, and also the evaluation of the options available to return our South African business to profitability," AngloGold Ashanti chief executive officer Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan said at time.
Trade union Solidarity warned that this round of job shedding could be the beginning of a trend in retrenchments in the mining sector due to the negative impact of the Mining Charter.
However, the department of mineral resources disputed this.
The charter has been criticised because of a lack of consultation between the government and other stakeholders, including labour and the mining industry itself.
Key aspects of the Mining Charter include an increase in black economic empowerment shareholding of all mines from a previous 26% to 30%. In addition, 50% of all board members and executive management must be black while 70% of all mining goods and 80% of all services in the mining industry must be procured from BEE entities.
New mining rights are subject to a 1% revenue payment to BEE shareholders prior to any shareholder distribution. Mining companies will have only 12 months to comply with the new charter's objectives.
After meeting with AngloGold executives on Friday, Zwane issued a media statement warning mining companies to adhere to legislation when considering retrenchments.
“The Section 52 process in terms of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA), and Section 189 process of the Labour Relations Act (LRA) should be adhered to, in order to avoid the creation of uncertainty in the industry,” he said.
Section 52 of the MPRDA states that the holder of a mining right remains responsible for the implementation of the processes provided in the Labour Relations Act pertaining to the management of downscaling and retrenchment, until the Minister of Mineral Resources has issued a closure certificate to the holder concerned.
AngloGold Ashanti's share price, with a market value of around R52.32bn, was up 2.72% to R131.62 at the close of the JSE.