Impala Platinum Mine workers face retrenchment

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Another round of retrenchment at platinum mines in Rustenburg in the North West is on the cards – with Impala Platinum Mine announcing that it’s reviewing its workforce.

The world second biggest miner, which employs more than 30 000 workers, has already retrenched over 2000 employees in 2017.

But that was not enough as the company is also planning to close down some of its shafts, due to low production levels and plummeting metal prices.

The demand for platinum globally has decreased, and that has resulted in the tumbling of metal prices, to a record low in almost ten years.

This has exerted pressure on several companies, including Lonmin in Marikana and Impala Platinum mine in Rustenburg.

While Lonmin is cutting 12600 jobs over a period of three years, Impala says it has been running all its operations at cost, and will have to make further financial adjustments.

Only three out of ten of its operations are profitable.

It is for this reason that the company is now making strategic reviews on its all operations.

Impala Platinum Mine Spokesperson, Johan Theron says: “There are two processes on the go, we have specifically looked at costs structures, and we have already reduced number of people we employed on the mine by two and half thousand people.”

A rock-drill operator at Impala, who works at shaft one near Freedom Park in Rustenburg, says the news of retrenchments have come as a shock.

The mine worker, who preferred to be anonymous due to safety reasons, says this retrenchment will be a blow to his entire family who rely on his salary for a living.

National Union of Mine workers (NUM) says although the employer has not officially furnished them with a notice of retrenchment, they are aware of planned job cuts.

NUM’s Mxlalisi Sthethe explains: “Job security for our members is really worrying in the industry. The employer when encountering problems in terms of costs, they cut workforce, and we are hearing that most companies, including Impala are going to retrench thousands of workers.”

“However, as NUM in Rustenburg, Impala has not formally communicated this to us. In fact we confronted Impala bosses and they said they have not decided yet. This brings so much uncertainity to workers and their families.”

Meanwhile, the Rustenburg Chamber of Commerce says since 2014’s five month strike, the economy of the city has not been able to recover.

Pieter Milan of the Chamber says further looming retrenchments will take away the public’s buying power, severely affecting business viability in the city.

“We have seen the business environment declining since the strike in 2012, and unfortunately in Rustenburg us still waiting for proper recovery. Unfortunately businesses need market and part of the market is the mining operations and to put into context, 70% of regional Gross Development Product is derived from mining.”

“If further retrenchments has to take place, the buying power of the public is going to decrease, and it’s going to cause business to be affected. We need economic revival.”

Meanwhile, Impala says it will make public their findings of the strategic review that may affect its workforce and aging shafts, in September 2018.