Sibanye plans to re­trench 330 min­ers

Com­pany seeks to cut costs

The Star Early Edition - - COMPANIES - Ka­belo Khu­malo

SIBANYE Gold, which has been on a spend­ing spree, yes­ter­day said it planned to re­trench about 330 work­ers at its newly ac­quired plat­inum mines as the com­pany seeks to elim­i­nate du­pli­ca­tion roles and cut about R800 mil­lion in costs at the af­fected mines.

Sibanye’s share price closed at R28.26, up 0.28%.

The com­pany said it had no­ti­fied its work­ers of the im­pend­ing re­trench­ments and would be­gin con­sul­ta­tions with af­fected par­ties. How­ever, unions said it must ex­pect fierce re­sis­tance to its bid to lay off hun­dreds of work­ers.

Scathing

The sec­tion 189 no­tice comes a day af­ter Min­eral Re­sources Min­is­ter Mosebenzi Zwane launched a scathing at­tack on Sibanye and An­gloGold Ashanti, ac­cus­ing them of re­fus­ing to com­ply with the coun­try’s min­ing laws.

James Well­sted, a spokesper­son for Sibanye, said the com­pany’s ac­tions fell within the am­bit of a rul­ing handed down by the Com­pe­ti­tion Tri­bunal last year when it paved the way for the com­pany to ac­quire Aquar­ius Plat­inum and Am­plats’ Rusten­burg op­er­a­tions.

“We have ini­ti­ated the sec­tion 189 in re­spect of the con­sol­i­da­tion of the Rusten­burg and Kroon­dal as­sets into Sibanye Plat­inum di­vi­sions and the elim­i­na­tion of du­pli­cate struc­tures and roles,” he said.

The com­pany said it ex­pected the con­sul­ta­tion process to last two months and had high­lighted R800m in costs and op­er­a­tional syn­er­gies re­alised be­tween the Kroon­dal and Rusten­burg op­er­a­tion to en­sure sus­tain­abil­ity.

Livhuwani Mamm­buru, a spokesper­son for the Na­tional Union of Minework­ers, said the rea­sons ad­vanced by Sibanye were friv­o­lous and he ex­pected the De­part­ment of Min­eral Re­sources to in­ter­vene to save jobs.

“Sibanye’s chief ex­ec­u­tive is no­to­ri­ous for re­trench­ing work­ers. Sibanye must re­mem­ber that sec­tion 52 of the MPRDA Act says if 10 per­cent or more of work­ers are re­trenched at any op­er­a­tion, the DMR must in­ter­vene; we ex­pect the reg­u­la­tor to fa­cil­i­tate this process hence­forth,” Mamm­buru said.

The com­pany, which was cre­ated in 2013 out of for­mer Gold Fields as­sets, had made sig­nif­i­cant ac­qui­si­tions in re­cent times.

In 2015 it bought Aquar­ius Plat­inum for R3.9 bil­lion and last year the firm ac­quired Am­plats’ Rusten­burg mines for R4.4bn.

The com­pany last month said it would pay R30bn for New York­listed Still­wa­ter Min­ing.

Rene Hochre­iter, a min­ing an­a­lyst at NOAH Cap­i­tal Mar­kets, said Sibanye was bound to ex­plore the re­trench­ments op­tion to stream­line its struc­ture af­ter the ac­qui­si­tions it made.

“The work­ers who are go­ing to be af­fected are those who find them­selves do­ing du­pli­ca­tion jobs where Sibanye al­ready had struc­tures in place,” she said.

Joseph Mathun­jwa, pres­i­dent of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Minework­ers and Con­struc­tion Union, said Sibanye must ex­pect re­sis­tance to its re­trench­ment plans.

“The law is very clear, a com­pany can­not change con­di­tions of em­ploy­ment within a year of ac­quir­ing an­other busi­ness, and the tri­bunal and Sibanye are not do­ing jus­tice to the work­ers.”

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

LONG WALK: Minework­ers make their way down a tun­nel at Sibanye Gold’s Ya Rona shaft, level 33, in Car­letonville.

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