by Udo Rypstra

New CoM president promises change

Labour relations in South Africa’s mining industry are set for radical change

Labour relations in South Africa’s mining industry are set for radical change
Changes promised

Labour relations in South Africa’s mining industry are set for radical change if statements made over the past few days by the new president of the Chamber of Mines are anything to go by. And that’s well before the Marikana Commission of Inquiry currently underway will make its findings and recommendations known next year.

Shortly after being elected this week, Mark Cutifani, who is also CEO of AngloGold Ashanti, told reporters he was confident that South Africa’s stricken mining sector would find creative solutions to solve labour problems which had turned into violent strikes and deaths over recent months since August, caused huge losses in production, shook investor confidence, but finally has made mining houses acutely aware they need to do more for the work force than just grant a wage increase.

Cutifani has acknowled that in order to prevent another Marikana tragedy, social issues such as the workers’ living conditions had to be tackled and that effective engagement across the broadest front was needed to restore sound labour relations.

 “We’re going to turn it around together,” Cutifani assured Mining Weekly Online in a video interview two days into his new office.

Most South African mining companies were working on social and labour plans that reached out to local communities and their workforces. If that meant using company expertise to help local communities, then that was what should be done.

“I’m imploring everybody to get involved in their local communities and become part of those communities in every sense of the word,” Cutifani said.

He described the enhancement of the human dignity of the workforce as the most important task at hand.

“People are not assets. People are not resources. They are much more important than that. People are the business. We’ve got to live that value in terms of everything that we do on a daily basis,” he said.

Strike action in South Africa was expected to reduce production 250,000 ounces - enough to imperil the group's overall 4.3 to 4.4 million oz target.

"We won't make the full-year guidance," said Cutifani, who added his executive team was now reviewing all its South African projects, including the $416m expansion at Mponeng and the $395m Zaaiplaats second phase expansion.

Cutifani said that AngloGold Ashanti as a company had invested R400-million in reconstructing the entire accommodation set up of the company.

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