Labour law, JSE regulations narrowed consultation with govt – Amplats

17th January 2013

By: Martin Creamer

Creamer Media Editor


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JOHANNESBURG ( – Labour law and the regulations of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) prevented Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) from making full disclosure to government of the details of its now-controversial platinum review plan ahead of the formal public announcement.

Amplats did consult with the Department of Labour, the Department of Mineral Resources and National Treasury ahead of this week’s far-reaching announcement to close two mines, mothball four shafts, fix and sell Union mine and eliminate a potential 14 000 jobs.

But it did so within the confines of its obligations under Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act and JSE rules of disclosure, says Amplats CEO Chris Griffith, who has been criticised by Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu for lack of prior consultation.

“You have quite a narrow window of opportunity to consult without it becoming obvious that you have now decided on your process, because the moment that you have decided on your process, the law says that you have to start the Section 189 process.

“The moment it becomes too tight to contain, then you are obliged by the JSE to disclose,” Griffith tells Mining Weekly Online in the attached video interview.

“You’ve got to be very careful about how and with whom you can consult. The moment you make available some information to the public, you have to make sure that the rest of the public has this information as well,” he adds.

“Why I am saying that Amplats is arrogant,” Shabangu told Bruce Whitfield of Radio 702, “ is that it took the company one year to work on the plan and they give people seven days to respond to a one-year plan. Why didn’t they start consulting after Marikana?” the Minister asked, adding to the political row that has engulfed the Amplats announcement.

In an earlier media conference, Shabangu dismissed Amplats’ offer to upskill and place every mineworker who loses a mining job in a non-mining job as part of an R800-million social plan to offset the negative impact of the company’s downsizing.

Griffith makes the point that Amplats had been discussing its operational and oversupply problems publicly for months, in addition to being involved in the government, business and labour initiative, Migdett, as well as the platinum task team that was set up to deal with the industry’s difficulties.

Amplats also entered a formal consultation period with the unions under Section 189 from the day that the proposals of its platinum review were made public.

“We have to first of all stop the loss-making operations. No company can be loss making on an ongoing basis. It’s in everyone’s interests that we have a profitable company.

"It has always been part of doing business in South Africa that business has the opportunity to be profitable and if Amplats can be profitable, it can also help its other joint ventures to be profitable as well,” he adds.

The industry has been hit by a quadrupling of the supply of platinum from recycling, a 9% fall in demand for autocatalysts and price-elastic Chinese jewellery demand, which are combining to hobble platinum mining.

Shabangu concedes that the low price of platinum is of concern to all and that there had been a discussion on broad issues with the intention of being able to reposition the platinum industry to create sustainability but she insists that Amplats must “come back and discuss”, because the far-reaching proposals are about “the economy of the country as a whole”.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter


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