‘SA’s mining industry in serious trouble’

Economic Development Ministry says 23,000 jobs have been lost across the country since April.

Economic Development Ministry says 23,000 jobs have been lost across the country since April. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel on Tuesday said South Africa's mining industry is in serious trouble and 23,000 jobs have been lost across the country since April.

Patel said the recent downturn in metal prices and demand from China has led to a series of job cut announcements from mining companies.

He said the subsidiary industries such as manufacturing now need urgent intervention from the state.

The minister said that while there are government programmes underway to create state jobs the main focus is creating jobs in the private sector.

"Not all of what we do is intended to be public sector jobs. Quite a lot of it, in fact the main emphasis is now unlocking the opportunities in the private sector because the public sector has done relatively well in boosting employment."

WAGE TALKS

And while gold mining companies continue what's been described as difficult talks over wages, Mineral Resources Minister Ngaoko Ramathlodi will today meet with leaders of the industry to discuss job cuts.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) this week formally rejected the final offer presented by the Chamber of Mines, saying their members need more cash in their pockets.

At the same time, thousands of jobs are on the line in the gold, platinum and coal industries due to fluctuating market prices increasing costs.

The affordability of the wage demands is still under the microscope during gold wage negotiations and Amcu President Joseph Mathunjwa has said they're skeptical of what companies have presented.

"They tried to bring some of their books but there was a lot of contradiction, of which they cut down on the details of the report."

The Chamber of Mines' Elize Strydom said the talks going forward will be difficult.

She said the chamber will also be part of today's meeting with the minister and will insist that all parties make compromises to save jobs.

"Everybody can do something to change the fortune of the mining industry."

The other three unions in the gold sector will meet with companies on Friday.