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Sibanye-Stillwater starts section 189 talks with labour on restructuring

Dineo Faku Senior Reporter
Section 189 talks have begun for four of Sibanye-Stillwater's platinum group metal shafts, putting 4,095 jobs on the line. Stock photo.
Section 189 talks have begun for four of Sibanye-Stillwater's platinum group metal shafts, putting 4,095 jobs on the line. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/Martin Bergsma

Precious metals giant Sibanye-Stillwater says 4,095 jobs are on the line as it starts talks with organised labour to restructure some of its platinum group metals operations.

In a notice posted on the JSE's news service, the group said section 189 talks have begun for four of the company’s South African platinum group metal (PGM) shafts. These are the Simunye shaft at the Kroondal mine, the 4 Belt and Rowland shafts in Marikana, and the Siphumelele shaft at the Rustenburg mine.

The company said above-inflation increases in key cost components such as electricity and water tariffs, wages, fuel and consumables over several years, and a decline in PGM prices in 2023, significantly affected the profitability of the industry. 

The 4,095 affected jobs include 3,500 employees and 595 contractors and support services employees.

Richard Stewart, Sibanye’s chief regional officer for Southern Africa, said the consultation process aims to find alternative measures to minimise job losses and ensure the long-term viability of the Rowland and Siphumelele shafts.

“We do not underestimate the potential impact of restructuring and commit to constructively engage affected employees through their representatives in an effort to minimise job losses. It is imperative that we engage in this process to ensure the sustainability of our South African PGM operations and the benefits and value they bring to multiple stakeholders.  

“Certain operating shafts are now loss-making and pose a risk to the sustainability of the remaining operations,” Stewart said. 

Sibanye said the Simunye shaft closed in the last quarter of 2022 in line with the company’s plans and employees who have not yet been deployed to other shafts will be part of the section 189 consultation.

Because of various operational constraints, the Rowland shaft achieved only 64% of planned production in the year to date, with remedial actions having failed to address this underperformance.

It said operations at 4 Belt faced closure during the restructuring of the Marikana operation in 2019 and had now depleted its economically extractable reserves and reached the end of life.

The Siphumelele shaft was rocked by seismicity in 2022 which, for safety reasons, restricted access to certain planned production areas.

“As an alternative to closure, rightsizing of the workforce to support the reduced average annual production forecast is proposed.”


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