South Africa’s Anglo American Platinum will cut 1,000 jobs at its struggling Twickenham mine, the firm’s chief executive said on Monday, but ruled out a sale of the mine.
Amplats, a unit of global mining group Anglo American, is pivoting its strategy on newer and more mechanised mines and removing unprofitable ounces following a record five-month strike in 2014 that damaged the viability of its mines.
Platinum prices have been battered by growth concerns in key consumer China and oversupply worries forcing firms to abandon projects and sell mines to cope.
“That’s unfortunately one of the outcomes of putting a project like that on care and maintenance. And it’s about 1,000 people affected,” Chief Executive Chris Griffith told Reuters at a mining conference in Cape Town when asked about job cuts.
Amplats said last year that its mechanisation drive would be implemented at Twickenham, a mine project it has been developing in South Africa as it prepares to shed labour-intensive assets.
Griffith on Monday said the company ruled out selling Twickenham project and will consider restarting the project again when the platinum market improves.
It was not immediately clear how many people work at the mine, or when the job cuts would take effect.
“It’s a very tough pricing environment and we have to make sure that we look at every area of costs,” he said, adding that the mine was losing money.
Amplats impaired Twickenham, which is based in the northern Limpopo province, for 3.5 billion rand ($219 million) and has started a consultation process with unions on job cuts.
The National Union of Mineworkers, which is the majority union at the mine, said it would oppose the job cuts.
“We are worried about the jobs bloodbath in the South African mining industry. Are mining companies here to create jobs or are they here to cut jobs? It looks like the companies are here to cut jobs and focus on profits,” NUM spokesman Livhuwani Mammburu said.
Mining firms in Africa’s most industrialised are struggling due to weakening global commodities prices for the country’s platinum, gold, iron ore and coal exports.
Amplats reported an 86 percent drop in full-year profit on Monday, hit by write-downs and restructuring costs amid plunging commodity prices.