Sibanye Gold will cut its workforce by 1 110 due to a fire in an ageing mine, the latest firm to shed workers in the troubled mining sector.
Sibanye, a spin-off from Gold Fields that listed in February, initially said it could cut up to 3 000 jobs after its Beatrix West section was hit by a fire in February, costing it 61 kg of production a month.
“There were no commercially viable alternatives to shutting down the section without some sort of job reductions,” said company spokesperson James Wellsted.
Sibanye shares were up by about 1.3% in early trading today.
The job cuts were likely to be permanent because the age of the section hit by the fire and the depth of its operations make mining there more costly compared with other shafts.
The loss of more than 1 000 jobs could become a flashpoint in the troubled mining sector, which is heading for wage talks in the coming weeks.
Unions have threatened strikes owing to lay-offs at other major mines while producers are looking to cut costs, owing to falling spot prices for precious metals such as platinum – with South Africa being the home to the bulk of the global reserves of the white metal.
The ANC has put pressure on mining houses to keep jobs in the country.
The party has also criticised the militant Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union for a turf war with the National Union of Mineworkers that has caused several platinum and gold producers to suspend operations.
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