South African miner Sibanye-Stillwater said on Wednesday that it could cut around 5,270 jobs as it restructures its loss-making Marikana mine.
Sibanye said the restructuring was aimed at returning the mine to profit and ensuring the sustainability of the remaining shafts, driving its share price up 6% to R21.28.
After a review into the mine’s operations, some shafts at risk of closure would continue to operate, lessening job losses, Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman said.
“Overall, the outcome will be a more sustainable business which is able to secure employment for the majority of the Marikana workforce for a much longer period,” he said in a statement.
Marikana was previously owned by Lonmin before the struggling platinum miner was taken over by Sibanye-Stillwater in a deal seen as the only way to save its 29,000-strong workforce. The mine was where 34 striking miners died in 2012 after being shot by police in an event that would become known as the ‘Marikana massacre’.
The job losses at the operations taken over from Lonmin – which account for over 26,000 staff – are significantly smaller than those Lonmin announced in 2017, thanks to an improvement in prices for platinum group metals, Sibanye-Stillwater said.
The company has also been cutting jobs in its gold mining operations in a country where job cuts are politically sensitive due to widespread unemployment – especially in the mining sector, where frequent, mass redundancies often affect poor, black workers.
South Africa’s unemployment rate hit a 11-year high of 29% in the second quarter of the year, with mining suffering the biggest decline as it lost 54,000 positions.
Sibanye-Stillwater said the cuts at Marikana would be subject to a consultation process, which would seek to avoid retrenchments and seek alternatives to the closure or downscaling of operations at the affected shafts.
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