The Competition Tribunal will, from November 12 to 14, hear several submissions from parties affected by the proposed merger between precious metals miner Sibanye-Stillwater and platinum group metals (PGMs) miner Lonmin.
The Competition Commission, which assesses large mergers prior to referring them to the tribunal for a decision, evaluated the transaction and concluded that it was unlikely to raise significant competition concerns.
The tribunal will hear the commission’s recommendation, and that of all the other parties involved, over three days next week and thereafter issue its decision on the merger.
The commission, meanwhile, has expressed concern about the potential impact of the transaction on employment since it believes that about 3 188 employees stand to lose their jobs as a result of the merger, and a further 10 156 employees could lose their jobs for operational reasons after the transaction.
The commission was also concerned about the impact of the merger on the Bapo Ba Mogale community and on small businesses and historically disadvantaged people.
Accordingly, the commission has recommended that the tribunal approve the merger subject to a range of conditions aimed at addressing these concerns.
To safeguard employment, Sibanye Gold and Lonmin have agreed to a number of projects that aim to conserve jobs; however, the outcome of these projects depends on the price of PGMs.
In order to meet their social responsibilities to the Bapo Ba Mogale community, where their platinum operations are located, the merging parties have agreed to continue complying with the existing social and labour plan that they have in place for this purpose and to honour four existing contracts between the merging parties and companies within this community.
The merging parties are also considering a possible agri-industrial development programme for the benefit of the Rustenburg community which is likely to be affected by the merger; however, this programme is subject to the outcome of a feasibility study that will determine its suitability.
The Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS), the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) and the Mining Forum of South Africa (MFSA) and the Greater Lonmin Community Concerned Members have all stated their intention to participate in the proceedings and raise concerns about the possible impact of the proposed merger on the public interest.
Among other submissions, the tribunal anticipates that Amcu will raise concerns about the impact of the merger on jobs; the MFSA will raise concerns about Lonmin’s compliance with the social and labour plan affecting the Bapo Ba Mogale community; and CALS will also raise concerns regarding the social and labour plan.