Home » Sibanye’s Kloof 4 Shaft’s Future in Jeopardy Amid Operational Hurdles

Sibanye’s Kloof 4 Shaft’s Future in Jeopardy Amid Operational Hurdles

by Oluwatosin Alabi

Major mining conglomerate, Sibanye-Stillwater, listed on both JSE and NYSE, has kickstarted consultations with its organized workforce and other impacted stakeholders. The focus is on the potential restructuring of its gold operations in South Africa, particularly concerning the Kloof 4 shaft in Gauteng. This decision stems from prolonged losses and operational challenges faced at this site.

Under the framework of Section 189A of the Labour Relations Act, these dialogues are the subsequent steps after multiple unsuccessful initiatives to overcome productivity challenges at the Kloof 4 shaft. A series of operational constraints have plagued the shaft, most notably issues with seismicity and complications related to the chilled water reticulation circuit.

Sibanye-Stillwater highlights that even with the current surge in gold prices, these challenges have led to continual losses. Amplifying the severity was a significant incident in late July. While conducting a safety trial run, an ascending counterweight of the conveyance system came into contact with an unforeseen obstruction in the shaft. This unexpected encounter caused several ballast plates to plummet down the shaft. Thankfully, no injuries were reported, given that the trial was conducted before hoisting employees.

Cumulatively, these complications have precipitated a drastic slump in productivity. This downturn has put the financial feasibility of the Kloof 4 shaft in grave danger, Sibanye reports.

A significant implication of potentially restructuring the Kloof 4 shaft would be the direct impact on its workforce. The move could influence the job statuses of 2,389 permanent employees and an additional 581 contractual workers. Through these formal consultation processes, both the company and the affected stakeholders aim to collaboratively devise strategies to evade and alleviate potential layoffs. Furthermore, they intend to explore alternatives to completely halting or downscaling operations and associated services.

Richard Cox, Sibanye’s executive VP and chief of the South African gold operations, expressed the company’s determination. “We’re fully committed to collaborating with all pertinent stakeholders. Our objective is to avert job losses and simultaneously curtail any negative ramifications on our broader South African gold operations and its workforce,” stated Cox.

Notably, the Kloof 4 shaft has been a significant contributor to Sibanye’s output, churning out more than 115,000 oz of gold annually.

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