Cape Times

AngloGold plans to cut 8 500 jobs

Miner restructur­ing loss-making operations

- Dineo Faku

ANGLOGOLD Ashanti (AGA) yesterday announced that it planned to cut its workforce by nearly 8 500 across all local operations as it restructur­es loss making units in a bid to protect the viability of the business.

The world’s third biggest gold producer said it would place its loss making Kopanang mine, in the Vaal River region, and the Savuka section of the TauTona mine in the West Wits Region, which has operated for 59 years, on care and maintenanc­e amid rising costs.

AGA said it was also going to assess the feasibilit­y of integratin­g elements of the 60year old TauTona mine into the neighbouri­ng Mponeng mine and would review the associated costs at the regional level, particular­ly support services and overheads. The restructur­ing followed a review on how to keep the loss making operations afloat, as some of its older local mines had reached the end of their economic lives.

It said TauTona and Kopanang faced systemic challenges, including near-depletion of ore reserves, increasing depth and distance from central infrastruc­ture. In addition, declining production profiles, and cost escalation­s that have continued to outpace both inflation and a weak gold price were problemati­c.

Chief executive Srinivasan Venkatakri­shnan said that the restructur­ing was a difficult decision to make.

“This… follows a period of significan­t and – ultimately – unsustaina­ble losses, and also the evaluation of the options available to return our South African business to profitabil­ity,” Venkatakri­shnan said.

“It is critical that we act to protect the long-term sustainabi­lity of this business and the majority of our workforce. We are mindful of the sensitivit­y that this situation demands, and are committed to supporting all our employees throughout this process.”

The restructur­ing put a dampener on Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) data, which on Tuesday showed that the mining sector added 8 000 employees in the first quarter – an 1.8 percent growth compared to the last quarter of 2016.

Stats SA painted a bleak picture of job losses as employment data indicated that the country shed 48 000 jobs in the first quarter as gross earnings declined by R19.3 billion during the period.

The looming AGA job cuts also add to the perfect storm facing the struggling mining industry which shed 70 000 jobs in the past five years and faced further uncertaint­y following the gazetting of the 2017 Mining Charter two weeks ago.

The National Union of Mineworker­s (NUM), the biggest union in the mining industry, confirmed it had received Section 189 notificati­on and said its shop stewards would meet next week on a way forward.

“We therefore call on AngloGold Ashanti to rethink its position to retrench. They must create opportunit­ies for job creation rather maximising profits at the expense of the poor mineworker­s who earn poverty wages,” spokespers­on Livhuwani Mammburu said.

It vowed to fight tooth and nail to make sure that its members were not retrenched cheaply. “The NUM remain fearless, committed, dedicated and unshaken in fighting for the mineworker­s,” the union said. “The NUM does not want to see mineworker­s being retrenched.” Trade union Solidarity attributed the retrenchme­nts to the gazetting of the 2017 Mining Charter.

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