South Africa: Sad End to Talc Mine Illustrates SA's Small Business Crisis


In his hour-long State of the Nation Address on Thursday, President Cyril Ramaphosa referred to small businesses only twice. In supporting small businesses, he said the government wants to create an enabling operating environment by reducing the cost of doing business and regulatory compliance. However, his promises fell on sceptical ears.

Business owners are despondent as some have embarked on mass retrenchments or the worst-case scenario of liquidation. At the small town of Sheba Siding, located about 20km north-east of Barberton in Mpumalanga, a 111-year old talc mine that employs about 50 people has shut its operations since April 2019, following an illegal strike.

Chamotte Holdings, the owner of the Scotia Talc Mine, and its workers were in wage talks that have since broken down, resulting in the abandonment once-busy mine, which produced between 200 and 400 tons of talc a month.

Scotia Talc Mine extracted soft and talc-containing rocks, which are first crushed and then milled into a fine powder which is used in products such as baby powder and automotive paint.

Mineworkers at Scotia Talc Mine, who are aligned to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, tabled a big wage demand; an increase in their minimum wage...

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