Amplats Extends South Africa Mines Ministry Talks on Job Cuts

Anglo American Platinum Ltd., the biggest producer of the metal, said it has extended talks with South Africa’s mines ministry over plans to shut shafts and cut as many as 14,000 jobs.

“The parties are still in the process of concluding the details of the consultation,” the Johannesburg-based company controlled by Anglo American Plc said in a statement today. The outcome of the talks will be communicated during the week starting May 6, the company said.

Anglo American Platinum, known as Amplats, in January put proposals to idle four shafts and cut jobs on hold for talks after the government criticized its handling of the matter and threatened to revoke some mining licenses. Producers in South Africa are struggling with higher costs as strikes led to above-inflation wage gains, while demand wanes. Amplats planned to cut 400,000 ounces of platinum production annually, or 7 percent of global output, to help return to profitability.

The company and the Department of Mineral Resources on March 28 agreed to extend the consultation process for a further 30 days and anticipated that the talks would be concluded by the end of April, Mpumi Sithole, a spokeswoman for the company, said in an April 29 e-mail.

The talks are taking place in a “difficult environment,” Chief Executive Officer Chris Griffith said in an April 26 interview in Johannesburg. “This is a very, very tough time for everyone, to try to make a profit in this kind of environment and then it’s a difficult time for governments to keep economies turning over and to keep people employed.”

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