Dept of Mineral Resources slams Implats retrenchment plans as 'thoughtless'

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Cape Town – The Department of Mineral Resources has slammed Impala Platinum's announcement on Thursday that it will cut 13 000 jobs in a restructuring process in order to generate enough cash by 2021 from its Rustenburg operations.

Implats [JSE:IMP] said it was working to stem the bleeding of thousands more jobs that may be at risk in the midst of its restructuring programme, which entails scaling down on non-profitable operations in the business and reducing the cost of production per platinum ounce.

Implats said it was "fully committed" to working to mitigate the potential impact of the restructuring process on jobs, as well as the spillover effect that potential job losses would have on the communities near the Rustenburg mining operations.

The company said it had little choice but to consider its restructuring process, which involves scaling down on loss making operations in Rustenburg, if the company were to generate sufficient cash by the 2021 financial year.

Its restructuring plan also includes mining less platinum to "remove non-profitable platinum production from an over supplied market," and closing six of its 11 shafts.  The restructuring plan will take two years to implement. 

The Department of Mineral Resources later on Thursday said the company’s announcement of proposed retrenchments, in light of previous commitments by the mining industry to save jobs, smacked of bad faith.

"The Department of Mineral Resources was still at the beginning of an engagement with Implats, wherein we encouraged them to consider different options of saving jobs and keeping their operations working.

"In this regard, we proposed - to which Implats management agreed, that they should engage on the basis of a Section 52 of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act," the statement said.

According to the department, Implats was "a clear example of a company that is careless, and mindlessly committed to implement its pre-determined outcome, no matter how unworkable that might be".

"This is worst disconcerting considering the high unemployment rate in the country, as reflected in the latest StatsSA survey. Further, Implats' actions are a display of arrogance, hence they can go against the grain at the time when - even - the President of the Republic is calling on all of us to put shoulder to the wheel in turning around our country's economic fortunes," the statement said.

The department urged the platinum mining group to reconsider its restructuring plan.  Impala shares were trading at R20.00 on Thursday afternoon, up by 3.90% in the day. 

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