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Sibanye-Stillwater may restructure loss-making gold shafts

It is not yet known which shafts face possible restructuring but Sibanye says no final decision had been made.
Gold producers are seeing profits squeezed by rising costs, labour unrest and declining grades. Picture: Supplied

South Africa’s Sibanye-Stillwater said on Tuesday it was considering measures, including restructuring if alternative solutions could not be found to bring loss-making gold shafts back to profitability.

Gold producers in Africa’s most industrialised economy, which have some of the world’s deepest mines, have seen profits squeezed by rising costs, labour unrest and declining grades.

Sibanye said it was in regular talks with key stakeholders, including the unions, through forums where it highlighted the challenges facing its bullion operations to solicit cooperation to address these challenges.

“We continue to engage through these forums. If we are unable to find viable solutions, restructuring may be required in order to secure the future of other, profitable operations,” Sibanye spokesperson James Wellsted said.

Wellsted declined to comment on which shafts faced possible restructuring across its operations but added that no final decision had been made.

“That’s one of the possibilities in the future that there may be a restructure if we don’t find a solution. There’s loss making shafts across our gold operations,” said Wellsted.

Sibanye has signalled to unions that it may cut up to 5 000 jobs at its struggling Driefontein operation, according to digital publication Miningmx, which cited three unnamed sources with knowledge of the matter on Monday.

Sibanye flagged last month that its 2018 bullion production would miss guidance and come in at 1.1 million ounces, despite plans being implemented to curb losses after workers downed tools in mid-November.

Sibanye, which has operations in South Africa and the United States also said it expected local platinum operations to be higher than its annual forecast and production at its US unit to be in line with previous guidance. 

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