An­gloGold Ashanti plan to axe 800 staff

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT - Reuters

AN­GLOGOLD Ashanti is in talks with unions to lay off more than 800 work­ers at its South African op­er­a­tions, a doc­u­ment ob­tained by Reuters showed yes­ter­day, after years of de­clines in out­put in the coun­try due to reg­u­la­tory is­sues.

Africa’s big­gest gold pro­ducer em­ploys about 25 000 peo­ple in South Africa, whose vast re­sources are ac­com­pa­nied by the risk of volatile labour re­la­tions, ris­ing costs, reg­u­la­tory dis­rup­tions and dizzy­ing shaft depths.

“An­gloGold Ashanti’s South Africa re­gion is con­tem­plat­ing the dis­missal of cer­tain em­ploy­ees on the ba­sis of its op­er­a­tional re­quire­ments,” said a let­ter dated Jan­uary 17 signed by An­gloGold chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Chris Sheppard.

The let­ter, ad­dressed to union lead­ers and reg­u­la­tors, pegged the num­ber of work­ers to be laid off at 849.

An­gloGold, which vies with Gold Fields, Har­mony and Sibanye Gold in South Africa, de­clined to com­ment on the num­ber of jobs at stake, but said it had started talks with unions and reg­u­la­tors that could lead to job cuts.

“Part of this process of en­gage­ment en­tails the nec­es­sary cre­ation of a more sus­tain­able and cost ef­fec­tive South African busi­ness that bet­ter re­flects the re­al­i­ties of the op­er­at­ing en­vi­ron­ment,” spokesper­son Chris Nthite said.

The talks come about two years after An­gloGold, which op­er­ates in eight other coun­tries that in­clude Brazil and Ghana, shelved plans to sep­a­rate its lo­cal mines by spin­ning off its in­ter­na­tional as­sets into a new London-listed en­tity that it had hoped would have at­tracted a higher in­vestor rat­ing.

Out­put from An­gloGold’s South African mines, which con­trib­ute roughly a quar­ter of the com­pany’s nearly 4 mil­lion ounces in an­nual out­put, has been de­clin­ing in re­cent years, due to reg­u­la­tory dis­rup­tions re­lated to safety.

The spokesman for the Na­tional Union of Minework­ers, which rep­re­sents the ma­jor­ity of work­ers in the sec­tor, said his union looked at the mat­ter with “se­ri­ous con­cern.”

Sol­i­dar­ity trade union’s gen­eral sec­re­tary Gideon du Plessis said the lay-offs did not come as a sur­prise, be­cause the com­pany had been in con­sul­ta­tion with union lead­ers for a few months.

“We are hop­ing that this process will be an iso­lated event and not trig­ger down­siz­ing else­where in the com­pany or from other min­ing houses,” Du Plessis said.

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