Implats May Cut 2,500 Jobs to End Losses at Biggest Mine

Updated on
  • Rustenburg operations experiencing ‘severe financial pressure’
  • Persistently low platinum prices, strong rand have hurt miner

The Impala Platinum mine in Rustenburg, South Africa, in 2008.

Photographer: Nadine Hutton/Bloomberg

Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. may cut at least 2,500 jobs at its Rustenburg mining complex in South Africa as the world’s second-largest producer of the metal seeks to stem losses and adjust to lower prices.

Impala has notified unions and the government to begin a mandated consultation process ahead of proposed cuts and restructuring at its largest operation, the Johannesburg-based company said in a statement Monday. Additional action may be needed in the future, the miner said. 

The Rustenburg operations, which employ about 31,000 people, are experiencing “severe financial pressure” after costs rose and as rand-denominated platinum prices remain low, Impala said. Labor productivity and platinum output have also declined in the past few years, it said.

Spot platinum prices struggled to recover from a 26 percent drop in 2015 that capped three consecutive annual declines. South African producers are facing a stronger local currency, which has gained 10 percent this year against the dollar, pushing up costs. Impala has also been battling to fix inefficient working practices and absenteeism at Rustenburg.

“Unfortunately, we are now left with no further option in the prevailing operating environment but to consider further restructuring processes that may lead to a reduction in the number of employees,” Chief Executive Officer Nico Muller said in the statement.

Impala said last week it set a target to return Rustenburg to a cash neutral position by 2019 and may consider closing or selling parts of the “large and intricate” mining complex.

The company’s shares fell 3 percent on Monday, to 33.20 rand in Johannesburg, extending their decline this year to 22 percent.

(Updates with total Rustenburg employees in third paragraph.)
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