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Thursday, 11 April 2024 19:47

Sibanye Stillwater may cut another 4 000 jobs at its SA gold operations.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

Gold mining company Sibanye Stillwater said on Thursday the planned restructuring of its South African gold operations could result in the loss of 4 022 jobs.

Sibanye has announced that it will enter into consultations with organised labour and other stakeholders in terms of Section 189A of the Labour Relations Act regarding the proposed restructuring at its South African gold operations and its Southern Africa region services functions.

Further to previous restructuring concluded during 2023 and in the first quarter of this year, the ongoing group business review has identified a need to address losses at the Beatrix 1 shaft, which has been unable to deliver planned production, as well as at the Kloof 2 plant, which, after the closure of the Kloof 4 shaft during 2023, has had insufficient processing material available to cover overheads.

The deferral of capital expenditure at the Burnstone project, announced in February, also requires restructuring aligned with the reduction in planned capital activities.

Meanwhile, the restructuring and closure of loss-making shafts and from proposed future restructuring or closures, has resulted in the capacity of the direct and shared services functions for the Southern African region and operations being surplus to current and future requirements.

As a result, the company proposes a re-alignment of the regional services, shared services and direct services structures to align with the requirements of the reduced operational footprint. This will reduce direct operational services costs and regional overhead costs, which are allocated to the operations, thereby contributing to the sustainability of the Southern African region oerations, the company states.

The proposed restructuring of the operations and services could potentially affect 3 107 employees and 915 contractors, Sibanye said.

The company, organised labour and other stakeholders will, as part of the Section 189A process, consider alternative measures to minimise job losses, while ensuring the long-term sustainability of the South African operations.

"We continue to act prudently to protect the balance sheet and ensure the sustainability of the group. We are committed to constructively engaging with affected employees and through their representatives to minimise job losses," says Sibanye CEO Neal Froneman.

Sibanye in December confirmed the retrenchment of 575 employees, as well as more than 550 contractors, at its Kloof 4 shaft.

It initially announced that 2 389 employees may lose their jobs as a result of the shaft closure, but 1 057 employees accepted transfers to fill vacant positions at the group's other South African gold operations, while 550 employees were granted voluntary separation or early retirement packages.

Meanwhile, the group had also announced in October last year that it was considering the restructuring of four shafts within its South African platinum group metals (PGMs) business, with up to 3 500 employees and 595 contractors potentially facing retrenchment.

It announced in February that 467 fewer jobs had to be cut as a result of natural attrition, while 351 employees accepted transfers to other PGM shafts and 1 208 accepted voluntary separation or early retirement packages.

Following negotiations with organised labour, the decision was taken not to close the 4B shaft as long as it does not incur net losses on a monthly basis. This resulted in 1 496 employees and 54 contractors retaining their jobs.

Forty-seven employees were retrenched, while about 800 contractor employees were affected by the shaft closures.

In addition to its South African gold and PGM operations, Sibanye owns PGM operations in the US, lithium and nickel mines in Europe and zinc and copper assets in Australia.