South Africa: Sibanye Signals 3,000 Lay-Offs At Kloof As Operational Woes Trump Sky-High Gold Prices

Sibanye-Stillwater said on Thursday it was holding mandatory consultations that could see almost 3,000 workers laid off at its Kloof 4 shaft near Westonaria, western Johannesburg. The shaft has been closed since 30 July after a major operational mishap.

Gold prices at over $1,900 an ounce are sky high by historical standards, but that does not make all shafts profitable.

Sibanye said on Thursday that it will enter Section 189 consultations - the part of the Labour Act concerning potential lay-offs - "with organised labour and other affected stakeholders regarding the possible restructuring of its SA gold operations pursuant to ongoing losses over an extended period and operational constraints at the Kloof 4 shaft".

The possible restructuring could affect 2,389 employees and 581 contractors, translating into almost 3,000 job losses in an economy that already tops the global rankings for unemployment. But the shaft is making a loss and Sibanye does not subsidise such assets with those that are making money.

"The initiation of S189 consultations follows numerous unsuccessful attempts to address productivity issues and other operational constraints at the Kloof 4 shaft, including seismicity and cooling constraints (associated with the chilled water reticulation circuit), which together have contributed to sustained losses, even at recent high gold prices," Sibanye said.

"This has been compounded by the recent incident at Kloof 4 shaft which caused significant damage to the shaft infrastructure. Together, these factors have resulted in a severe deterioration...

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