Over 3 000 gold mine workers affected by Sibanye-Stillwater restructuring

The entrance to the Sibanye-Stillwater mine. (Iavan Pijoos/News24)
The entrance to the Sibanye-Stillwater mine. (Iavan Pijoos/News24)

Sibanye-Stillwater has concluded a section 189 process in its gold operations in SA which will affect over 3 000 workers.

The mining company on Wednesday issued a shareholder notice indicating that it had concluded a consultation process with relevant stakeholders about the retrenchments. The company in February 2019 announced it would restructure its SA gold operations and associated services. The section 189 process was initiated due to financial losses at some of its Beatrix and Driefontein shafts since 2017.

At the time the mine expected over 6 000 workers, including contractors, would be affected.

Now that the process has been concluded, job losses have nearly halved. "Approximately 3 450 employees finally affected by the restructuring. Voluntary separation, early retirement  and natural attrition accounted for the bulk of the affected jobs, with forced retrenchments limited to approximately 800 employees and 550 contract workers," the statement read.

"We have come through a difficult period, but have strategically positioned the group for the platinum wage negotiations and the integration of Lonmin. Restructuring and consultations proceeded despite the ongoing strike.

"We are therefore pleased to have concluded the S189 consultation and successfully reduced the footprint of the operations in a responsible manner and resulted in over 2 650 potential job losses being avoided," CEO Neal Froneman said.

"Although restructuring is a difficult and emotive process, the sustainability of our remaining operations is our primary focus," he added.

"We are now focused on restoring profitability at our SA gold operations in a steady and safe manner," Froneman said.

The company stated that agreements had been reached with stakeholders. For example operations of the Driefontein 8 shaft will continue for as long as it makes a profit over a continuous period of three months. The shaft will provide extended employment for approximately 970 employees and 55 contractors.

"In the event that this operation becomes loss making again, it will be placed on care and maintenance with immediate effect," Sibanye-Stillwater said.

Unfortunately, no "viable alternatives" were found for the Beatrix 1 shaft and Driefontein 2, 6 and 7 shafts, as well as the Beatrix 2 plant. "As such Beatrix 1 and Driefontein 2 shafts will be placed on care and maintenance, while Driefontein 6 and 7 shafts and Beatrix 2 plant will be closed," Sibanye-Stillwater said.

Sibanye-Stillwater's share price opened at R14.85 on Wednesday morning. By 11:20 it was trading at R15.10.

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