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Implats starts closing mine shaft

Implats said this month it was considering closing a shaft and another section of Rustenburg.

FILE: Implats said this month it was considering closing a shaft and another section of Rustenburg. Picture: www.implats.co.za.

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's Impala Platinum, the world's second-largest producer of the precious metal, has started the process of closing parts of its Rustenburg mine, it said on Friday, putting 1,600 jobs at risk.

The announcement comes just over two weeks after the industry, unions and the government signed a broad plan to stem job losses triggered by falling commodity prices and soaring costs.

Implats, as the company is known, said this month it was considering closing a shaft and another section of Rustenburg. The two areas employ 1,600 people.

"As things stand, save for an intervention that could result in these two areas becoming profitable, we are looking at closing those two areas," spokesman Johan Theron said on Friday.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said the Implats' plan showed no regard for efforts to save jobs in a country with an unemployment rate of around 25 percent.

"It's sad to see mining companies keeping on retrenching and it does show that they don't respect the pact to preserve jobs," NUM spokesperson Livhuwani Mammburu said.

Implats said this month it planned to shave R1.3 billion ($97.97 million)from 2016 capital expenditure to R4.2 billion by closing some unprofitable shafts and delaying capital projects.