Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane on Friday instructed the Minerals and Petroleum Board to verify whether the information provided by AngloGold Ashanti that it plans to retrench over 8 000 workers took into consideration industry commitments to save jobs.
This comes after AngloGold Ashanti said on Wednesday that it had started a consultation process with employees to retrench 8 500 workers at its South African operations. AngloGold Ashanti’s South African operations employ about 28 000 people, including contractors.
Zwane said the instruction to verify this information was to ensure that the proposed actions by AngloGold Ashanti took into account the commitments made in the Stakeholder Declaration signed by industry stakeholders to save jobs.
Zwane met with the chief executive of AngloGold Ashanti, Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan, and his executives on Friday following the company’s announcement of the planned retrenchments.
“We continue to appeal to companies to act responsibly and with sensitivity. These are not just numbers to be thrown around, but people’s livelihoods and future job prospects, and we should not take this matter lightly,” Zwane said.
More information on the latest round of retrenchments is expected to be made available after the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) appoints a facilitator for the process in terms of the Labour Relations Act (LRA).
Zwane also reminded companies that the Section 52 process in terms of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA), and Section 189 process of the LRA should be adhered to, in order to avoid the creation of uncertainty in the industry.
Section 52 of the MPRDA states that the holder of a mining right remains responsible for the implementation of the processes provided in the LRA pertaining to the management of downscaling and retrenchment, until the Minister of Mineral Resources has issued a closure certificate to the holder concerned.
AngloGold Ashanti wants to place on care and maintenance the Kopanang mine in the Vaal River region, and the Savuka section of the TauTona mine, in the West Wits region. Savuka has been in operation for 59 years, and has already been extended ten years beyond its natural life. Kopanang Mine produced its first gold in 1981, 36 years ago.