SA strives to save mining jobs
PRETORIA - South Africa’s mining ministry held talks with companies and unions over planned job cuts on Wednesday, as President Jacob Zuma’s government frets over high unemployment ahead of key elections next year.
The mining industry, which contributes around seven percent to Africa’s most developed economy, is struggling with sinking commodity prices, rising costs and labor unrest.
“It’s about jobs, jobs, jobs and none of us should leave this place without committing something to the table,” mining minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi told reporters.
Mr Zuma’s African National Congress (ANC) heads into local elections next year with its main rival the Democratic Alliance (DA) targeting wins in key metropolitan areas, including Gauteng, home to economic hub Johannesburg.
The DA will target the ANC on its inability to reduce stubbornly high unemployment, which officially stands at 25 percent but some experts believe is much higher.
Mr Ramatlhodi on Tuesday ordered Glencore to suspend operations at its 10 million tonne-a-year Optimum coal mine because the mining group hadn’t followed legal procedure in its plan to cut 380 jobs at the mine.
Glencore has said it complied with all legal requirements relating to job cuts.
The DA described the suspension at Opti- mum as a “panic move” that will make jobs losses worse.
Mr Ramatlhodi said talks with Glencore had taken place overnight and he hoped to be able to lift the mine suspension if the company met government directives.
The mines ministry is also mediating between Glencore and power utility Eskom after a spat between the two companies over the price the state-owned company pays for coal.
South Africa is facing potentially its biggest-ever power crisis as Eskom imposes regular power cuts due to insufficient generation capacity, pushing up costs for industry and hampering already sluggish economic growth.
The gold sector’s two biggest unions have rejected a 17 percent wage increase offer from producers, including Anglogold, Harmony and Sibanye, stringing out pay negotiations and raising the prospect of strikes.
Platinum producers, including Lonmin, Anglo American Platinum and Impala Platinum, have also clashed with unions and government over their plans for job cuts and mine closures.
Lonmin said last month it was planning to close or mothball several mine shafts in a bid to survive plunging prices, putting 6,000 South African jobs at risk.
market. On top of that, the Chinese economy is slowing down this year. Even its large factory sector is shrinking.
But Chinese banks have still managed to grow, at least compared to their global peers.
Two banks that fell out of the top this year were France’s BNP Paribas (BNPQF) and Japan's Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MBFJF). Both were hit by weakening currency in their countries –– the euro and the yen have fallen substantially against the US dollar in the past year. That makes their assets less valuable in dollar terms.
Top 10 banks according to SNL Financial:
1. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China 2. China Construction Bank (China) 3. Agricultural Bank of China 4. HSBC (UK) 5. Bank of China (China) 6. Jpmorgan Chase (US) 7. BNP Paribas (France) 8. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (Japan) 9. Bank of American (US) 10. Barclays (UK)
Lonmin said it was planning to close or mothball several mine shafts putting 6 000 jobs at risk.