South African mining firms are in a delicate position. Squeezed by falling commodity prices, production problems and labour unrest, they are trying to push on with plans to cut costs while treading carefully to keep workers onside.
On Friday, top global platinum producer Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) announced its decision to slash 6,000 jobs, a far cry from the 14,000 originally planned – but the main union AMCU rejected the announcement, and Amplats may find itself dragged back to the drawing board. Continue reading »
Five workers were reported to have been shot by security guards on Monday at an Anglo American Platinum mine in South Africa. With relations between the world’s largest platinum miner, its workforce and the South African government already strained, the incident will have significant repercussions. Continue reading »
Anglo American Platinum, the world’s top producer of the precious metal, on Monday announced a loss in the financial year to the end of December as the struggling company counts the cost of two months of wildcat strikes at its South African operations, writes Andrew England in Cape Town.
The company, which is part of Anglo American, posted a headline earnings loss of R1.47bn, compared with a profit of R3.57bn in 2011, with Amplats saying it had lost 305,600 ounces of equivalent refined platinum ounces because of the industrial rest, which erupted in August. Continue reading »
Anglo American Platinum announced on Tuesday its intentions to close and sell off several of its mines in South Africa, as part of a long-awaited review of operations. The Johannesburg listed miner, which is part of the Anglo American group, will be shutting down four shafts in Rustenburg and divesting from its Union mine complex in Limpopo.
With 14,000 jobs at risk the plan has major implications for South Africa’s turbulent labour relations, but with a significant reduction in global platinum supply to follow, it also has wider implications for the markets. Mining stocks for rival producers rallied on the news, with platinum prices rising to three month highs. Continue reading »
The strikes which have hobbled the South African mining industry over the past year are starting to show up in company results. Here with some New Year bad news is Anglo American Platinum.
The Johannesburg-listed miner, which is the world’s largest platinum producer with 40 per cent of global supply, released a profit warning on Monday ahead of its year-end results, stating that headline earnings per share are expected to decrease to a 491-628 cents loss. Continue reading »
Ever since the Zimbabwe government published its plans to localise majority ownership of the country’s mines, mixed messages have dominated the debate over investment and growth.
Last week was no different, with the finance minster, Tendai Biti, and miner Amplats making positive noises about investment which seem rather optimistic, to put it mildly. Continue reading »
Leaders of South Africa’s National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on Monday pledged to try to stabilise labour relations in the troubled industry.
But Frans Baleni, general secretary, and Senzeni Zokwana, president, told beyondbrics they could not give investors “guarantees” that there would be no resurgence of the strikes that caused so much disruption this year. Continue reading »
In most lines of work, being fired means just that. In South African mining, it can be just part of the negotiations.
Thursday is shaping up to be a big day in the mining stand-off that has rocked the industry following the deaths of platinum miners in Lonmin’s Marikana complex back in August. Continue reading »
Another twist in the South African labour relations on Friday: Anglo American Platinum has fired 12,000 workers taking part in a three-week illegal strike.
That’s around a fifth of the company’s workforce. While there are precedents for big dismissals like this, the move comes at an extremely volatile moment – on Friday another striking miner was reportedly killed by a police rubber bullet during protests at Amplats Rustenburg mine. Continue reading »
The South African rand weakened on Friday amid continued violent unrest in the mining industry. A striking miner was reportedly killed by a police rubber bullet during protests in the Rustenburg platinum mining region and Shell, the Anglo-Dutch oil company, said it could not guarantee fuel deliveries in Johannesburg for safety reasons.
The currency lost 2 per cent of its value against the US dollar to trade at R8.68, close to its weakest point for the year, before recovering slightly to trade 1.4 per cent weaker. Continue reading »
Lonmin’s crisis-hit Marikana mine on Wednesday saw 3,000 striking miners stage the biggest protest since 34 workers were shot dead by police last month.
Reuters reported that police with tear gas, assault rifles, armoured vehicles and helicopters kept watch on the demonstrators in the strongest show of police force since the immediate aftermath of the shootings.
Fortunately, this time there was no violence. But any lingering hopes of an early settlement of the dispute have been firmly dispelled. Lonmin’s shares were down by nearly 5 per cent by mid-afternoon, extending to over 30 per cent the drop since the Marikana strike began a month ago. Continue reading »
South Africa on Thursday was preparing to mourn the death of the miners killed at the Marikana platinum mine with a memorial at the complex and other services across the country.
The focus is rightly on the human cost of the tragedy after 34 workers were killed by police last week after 10 others, including two policemen, died in violent clashes during a prolonged strike at the Lonmin mine.
But political and economic considerations are never far away, given the central role of mining in South Africa. Continue reading »
The killing of more than 30 striking miners by South African police on Thursday has shocked the country and the industry and reverberated around the financial markets.
Shares in Lonmin, the platinum mining group at the centre of the dispute, plunged by 10 per cent in Johannesburg early on Friday as details of the shootings at the company’s Marikana mining complex near Rustenburg were revealed.
While shares in Impala Platinum and Anglo American Platinum, the two other big operators at Rustenburg, also fell, the wider South African market barely moved.
Perhaps, investors are still weighing their responses. They would be wise not to underestimate the potential impact of a tragedy that has South African commentators making comparisons with the worst excesses of the apartheid regime. Continue reading »