Thousands of mining jobs on the line - CoM

More than 10 000 miners could be retrenched

More than 10 000 miners could be retrenched
Jobs on the line

More than 10 000 miners could be retrenched in the first quarter of next year, as platinum mines were struggling to break even and gold mines had to go deeper, according to Chamber of Mines CEO Bheki Sibiya.

"In terms of the retrenchments next year, first quarter... I don't know the numbers, but I can tell you it's probably in the thousands, possibly going above ten (thousand) and maybe higher," he told members of the Cape Town Press Club on Friday, 23 November.

Those working for the platinum, gold and chrome mines were at the frontline of losing their jobs.

"More than half of the platinum mines are just breaking even, if not running at a loss, due to poor demand and a lower platinum price.

"The gold sector has to mine deeper and deeper and this is going to incur more costs, especially for electricity to pay for the hoisting of men and material. The chrome sector is also facing lower demand and prices," said Sibiya.

The coal-mining sector was stable for the time being, he added.

Sibiya described the mining industry as being between a rock and a hard place. A rescue plan was needed, particularly for marginal gold mines that were being forced to mine up to 5 kilometres deep.

"On the one hand, we have a lot of pressure about wages and employment, and on the other, shareholders who need a reasonable return," he said.

He warned that the mining sector could see more strikes, saying the mining industry appeared to be a target of strife for many social forces, including unions and politics, and that more should be done to protect the sector, as "it was the crown jewel, or the goose that lays the golden egg of the country".

Sibiya described the Marikana massacre on August 16 as a shameful event for the mining sector, but said that the workers themselves were not angels.

According to the Chamber of Mines, the South African mining industry employs about 500 000 people directly and another 500 000 indirectly.

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