The Star Late Edition

Unions demand Samancor to come clean

- SIFISO MAHLANGU sifiso.mahlangu@inl.co.za

THE National Union of Mineworker­s (NUM) has instructed mining giant Samancor to come clean – following reports of business practices against the Competitio­n Commission – or face strike action.

NUM national secretary Bonginkosi Mrasi told The Star they are committed to protecting employees and fighting corruption within mining companies.

“We are concerned about reports that Samancor may be involved in activities that are against competitio­n laws in South Africa. We are aware of Samancor’s new ownership and we remain convinced this behaviour must be investigat­ed by the Competitio­n Commission.

“In cases like this, the commission, and the Department of Minerals Resources and Energy must get involved. We know that the Competitio­n Commission would not have approved these transactio­ns,” Mrasi said.

Two weeks ago, The Star published an investigat­ion into Samancor, which stated how South Africa’s biggest chrome miner now belongs to a Chinese Consortium, which includes Sino Steel, Min Metals, and China National Investment Corporatio­n – all three being multi-billion dollar enterprise­s – but Samancor changed hands in South Africa, with no regulatory approval, and the transactio­n running into billions of rand.

Soon after Samancor changed ownership in 2019, two companies were appointed to be the agents for Samancor, selling their chrome worldwide. While Samancor had sold chrome to some European countries, Turkey, India, China, South Korea and Japan, the new owners sell almost exclusivel­y to the Chinese market, shutting out other companies from doing business with the Asian giant.

“These transactio­ns, of course, affect black companies and will affect jobs. It is our role to fight for job security. We are prepared to mobilise for that,” Mrasi said.

The Independen­t Liberation Allied Workers Union (ILAWU) has also called for an investigat­ion into Samancor’s “dirty business”. “We are aware of business practices such as insider trading and improper transactio­ns of big corporates. It’s always the workers that suffer in the end. We are calling on Treasury, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Competitio­n Commission to investigat­e this.

“We want Lyu Zhengyi, (Samancor board representa­tive of China National Investment Corporatio­n) to explain why Samancor entered into an agreement with two strange companies in Hong Kong and Singapore to sell ferrochrom­e that is worth $195 a ton for $75 a ton. We’re going to be told about retrenchme­nts after these shady deals backfire,” said Siphamandl­a Masimula, ILAWU’s chairperso­n.

Besides Samancor’s hugely profitable internatio­nal links, last year it said it would cut close to 2 500 jobs in response to weak chrome prices. This followed a separate notificati­on of about 599 potential job cuts at its smelting operations and corporate offices.

Though Samancor produces more than a million tons of ferrochrom­e, used to make stainless steel, per year, according to its website, last year it told unions it would hold talks over the 2 438 potential job cuts at its Eastern Chrome and Western Chrome mines. Unions told the Star the said consultati­ons did not happen as Samancor had stated.

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