Implats in talks that could lead to 2,500 job cuts

Implats, the world’s second-biggest platinum producer, said last week job cuts were possible after it reported a 2017 year loss.

Impala Platinum Mine in Rustenburg. Picture: implats.co.za

JOHANNESBURG - Impala Platinum has started talks with the government and unions that could see up to 2,500 workers laid-off at its Rustenburg operations west of Johannesburg, the company said on Monday.

Implats, the world’s second-biggest platinum producer, said last week job cuts were possible after it reported a 2017 year loss. The Rustenburg operations have been hit by social and labour strife in recent years.

Lay-offs have become a sensitive - and sometimes highly charged - issue, especially with the unemployment rate at about 27 percent.

The company said further reductions could be in the pipeline at Rustenburg, which has a labour force of 31,000, as the company struggled to return to profitability.

“It is expected that some 2,500 people could be affected near term, but this does not preclude further optimisation processes that may be required in future to ensure the continued sustainability of the operation,” the company said.

“Labour productivity rates have declined over the last few years and production levels at Impala Rustenburg have been reduced from a historical base of some 1 million platinum ounces per annum, to the 680,000 to 720,000 ounces forecast for the 2018 financial year,” it said.

South Africa’s mining industry has shed close to 70,000 jobs, about 13 percent of the labour force, since 2012 in the face of volatile or depressed prices, soaring costs, labour and social unrest, and policy uncertainty.