South Africa-focused bullion producer Sibanye Gold plans to cut up to 2 500 workers at its recently acquired Cooke 4 mine west of Johannesburg, two industry sources told Reuters on Thursday.
“Sibanye plans to make the announcement on Friday,” one source, who asked not to be named, said. Another source close to the process confirmed the planned retrenchments.
The sources said Sibanye would implement the plan by issuing what is known as a “Section 189 notice”, a legal requirement that means it will consult with unions, the government and other stakeholders for up to 90 days about the process.
Job cuts are a thorny issue in South Africa where labour relations in the mining shafts are raw and the unemployment rate is around 25%.
Sibanye is a spin off from Gold Fields, which last year folded most of its labour-intensive South African operations into the separate company so it could focus on mechanised mining at a global level.
Sibanye is regarded as a cash-rich dividend play focusing on older assets which will not require vast amounts of capital expenditure as they will be mined out in the next couple of decades.
But the mining methods are conventional with large labour forces which form the bulk of the company’s costs.