Zimbabwe Ruling Party Criticizes Impala, Aquarius Mine Job Cuts

Zimbabwe’s ruling party criticized Impala Platinum Ltd. (IMP) and Aquarius Platinum Ltd. (AQP)’s plan to cut 100 jobs at their Mimosa operation in the southern African nation because of a decline in prices.

“The Zimbabwean mine must make its own decisions instead of the South Africans coming here and deciding how to cut their costs,” Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front spokesman Rugare Gumbo said by phone from the capital, Harare.

Expenses at Mimosa rose 23 percent in the year ended June 30, Johannesburg-based Impala, said in an Aug. 29 statement. Management at the mine, where platinum-group metal output rose 3.3 percent to 217,872 ounces, wants to start a voluntary job-cut program as part of plans to reduce costs, Winston Chitando, chairman of the operation, said in a Nov. 9 e-mail. The price of platinum has dropped 8.6 percent in the past 12 months.

Laws in Zimbabwe compel mining companies to sell or cede 51 percent of their local assets to black citizens or the government, and Mimosa is in talks with state officials about this, Chitando said on Oct. 28. The country has the world’s biggest known reserves of the metal after South Africa, where Impala and Anglo American Platinum Ltd., the largest producer, saw costs climb more than 20 percent last year because of higher labor expenses and lost production caused by work stoppages.

“We understand that the South African shareholders, as a result of strikes in their country, want to cut their costs by cutting jobs here at Mimosa,” Gumbo said.

The mine’s management met with Jason Machaya, governor of the Midlands province where the Mimosa operation is located, Chitando said by phone today. He declined to provide more detail about the meeting. Mimosa is near Zvishavane, 299 kilometers (186 miles) southwest of Harare.

Impala spokesman Johan Theron declined to comment. Charmane Russell, a spokeswoman for Aquarius at Russell & Associates, didn’t immediately answer a call or e-mail seeking comment. Zimbabwean Mines Minister Walter Chidakwa didn’t answer calls.

To contact the reporter on this story: Godfrey Marawanyika in Harare at gmarawanyika@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net

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