10,000 mining jobs at risk from Transnet, low prices

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said close to 10,000 jobs could be lost between now and January 2024 as mining companies begin to issue retrenchment notices amid declining commodity prices and an inability to export their produce. 

NUM held its National Executive Committee meeting last week, where it lamented the potential job losses the sector faces. 

Mining companies, including global giants Glencore and Sibanye-Stillwater and local miners Seriti and Impala Platinum (Implats), recently issued section 189 notices.

Sibanye is restructuring its platinum operations due to falling prices and rising costs. The company will close four loss-making shafts, which could result in the loss of over 4,000 jobs.

CEO Neal Froneman said that the restructuring is necessary to ensure the sustainability of the company’s operations. 

Some of South Africa’s diversified miners, such as Anglo American and Glencore, have also begun to cut jobs. 

Anglo American has begun cutting jobs at its head office in South Africa, while Glencore has begun retrenchment processes at its iMpunzi coal-mining complex. 

“Most companies have cited load-shedding and the continued increasing prices of electricity as reasons to issue Section 189A notices,” NUM said in a statement

“Clearly, for as long as there is still no solution to the electricity challenges, we will continue to lose jobs. We are calling on the government to proactively attend to this as a matter of urgency.”

NUM said it will continue to fight for job security and urged employers to find ways to reduce the impact of retrenchments and the country’s high unemployment.

“As a trade union, we are ready to constructively engage in a process that will protect jobs, prevent future job losses, and prolong the jobs of those who are already employed,” NUM said. 

Mining analyst Peter Major also recently warned of further job cuts in the sector. 

Major said mining companies are as reliant on Eskom, Transnet, and local governments for water supply as the average citizen in South Africa. 

While they can mitigate the effects more successfully, they will not be able to do so for much longer.

“Unfortunately, like most things our government has been trying to run, it has been unable to do a proper job,” Major said of Transnet. 

“With all these infrastructure problems, the government has to realise if they do not get it right and help companies, there is going to be worse unemployment and poverty.”

“Government cannot create wealth. Only people and companies can. So, the government has to help companies and people, or unemployment will go up.”