Amplats to close Rustenburg and Union mines in South Africa

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Rustenburg, South Africa Image credit: flickr User: James

A ten-week strike has forced Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) to consider closing down the mines since the current situation will render them unprofitable this year. Amplats, Impala Platinum (Implats) and Lonmin are the three largest suppliers of platinum in the world.

Rustenburg, South Africa Image credit: flickr User: James
Rustenburg, South Africa
Image credit: flickr User: James

The Rustenburg operations have been shut down since January 23rd, with around 70, 000 Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) members on strike requiring a basic wage of R12, 500 a month for entry-level workers, which is a more than doubling of salaries. The companies claim that that amount will destroy the industry as it is completely unaffordable.

According to the article on BD Live, Amplats conducted a restructuring of its Rustenburg mines last year, closing two of them and cutting 7,500 jobs in order to restore profit.

“We think that we had a profitable solution for Rustenburg but it was borderline. Now… a third of the year’s production is gone… Rustenburg cannot make a profit this year. The longer this continues… we’ve got to ask ourselves: ‘At what point in time do we have to shut down Rustenburg?’ That is a conversation we are having internally, we are looking at different scenarios to say ‘When do we shut down Rustenburg?’ The same goes for Union mine,” Amplats CEO Chris Griffith said last week.

“If this isn’t solved in the near term we will have no choice but to start looking at those options. The first ones we are looking at as we speak are Union and Rustenburg. If it continues for longer, then we’ll look at Dishaba and Tumela. Ultimately, the final solution for the mining industry must be more mechanised, productive work. For us to settle at Amcu’s demands we might just as well shut down Rustenburg and Union now. Giving that settlement, getting everyone back and then having to shut the mines down is lying to people.”

Anglo American Platinum Limited accounts for about 40% of the world’s newly mined platinum with headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa.

For more information about the company and its mining operations, go to http://www.angloplatinum.com/default.asp