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Platinum mining sector 'facing a crisis'

The Chamber of Mines of SA has expressed concern regarding the state of the platinum mining sector.

Mine shaft. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN - The Chamber of Mines of SA (Comsa) says the platinum mining sector is in a state of crisis, hard hit by rising input costs, low productivity and ongoing violence.

Comsa briefed Parliament's Mineral Resources Committee on Wednesday.

This follows Monday's shooting at the Amplats mine in Rustenberg, where more than a dozen workers were injured.

Comsa’s Roger Baxter has given a broad overview of the platinum mining sector.

He says the sector’s 2011 contribution to the GDP was nearly six percent, nearly 200,000 jobs were created.

However, Baxter says times are tough - platinum mining is being strangled by rapidly rising input costs while demand and prices for the commodity have fallen.

Between 2006 and 2011, electricity, steel and labour costs have risen by R28 billion while platinum group metal’s production dropped significantly.

Baxter also says the Marikana tragedy, which claimed the lives of 44 people, affected the industry very badly, with estimates that R10 billion in revenue has been lost.

The miners lost their lives during clashes with police in August.

They were protesting for better salaries.

Meanwhile, mining company Anglo Gold Ashanti has attributed a decrease in its fourth quarter headline earnings, to disruptions at its South African operations.

Anglo Gold Ashanti has posted $924 million earnings, compared to $1.3 billion the previous year.

This is the second highest on record, despite a difficult year in which an unprotected strike and safety stoppages caused major disruptions at its Kopanong Mponeng Mines in the North West between September and November.

Efficient Group Economist Dawie Roodt says the figures are not surprising.

“The recent violence that we’ve seen in the mining industry could be a contributing reason for this.”

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