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Sibanye-Stillwater Restructures, Reduces Job Loss Impact

Constructive Consultations Lead to Minimized Retrenchments

by Adenike Adeodun

Sibanye-Stillwater, a leading mining company, has recently concluded consultations under Section 189A of the Labour Relations Act regarding the restructuring of four shafts at its South African Platinum Group Metals (PGM) operations. This process, initiated due to operational challenges, aimed to address the sustainability and efficiency of its Simunye, Kroondal, Marikana, and Rustenburg shafts.

Initially, the restructuring posed potential impacts on 4,095 workers, including 3,500 employees and 595 contractors. The necessity for this move was underscored by the underperformance of certain shafts, which threatened the overall viability of Sibanye-Stillwater’s operations in the region.

Through diligent negotiations and a commitment to minimizing job losses, Sibanye-Stillwater and the stakeholders explored various measures. These efforts bore fruit, significantly reducing the number of employees facing potential retrenchment. The outcomes of these discussions have led to the closure of the Simunye shaft, which had already ceased production earlier in the year. Meanwhile, the Rowland and Siphumelele shafts will continue operations after being repositioned for sustainable productivity at reduced costs. The future of the 4B shaft remains conditional, dependent on achieving break-even results on a monthly basis, with closure looming if profitability cannot be maintained.

The consultation process has had tangible outcomes for the workforce:
– The 4B shaft has retained 1,496 employees and 54 contractors.
– Natural attrition since September 1, 2023, has accounted for 467 fewer affected employees.
– A total of 351 employees have been relocated to other shafts within the company’s South African PGM operations, offsetting vacancies created by natural attrition.
– Voluntary separation or early retirement packages were accepted by 1,281 employees.
– Unfortunately, 47 employees were retrenched, and 805 contractors were also affected after all possible avoidance measures were exhausted.

Neal Froneman, CEO of Sibanye-Stillwater, expressed that the decision to restructure or close operations is always challenging but emphasized that the consultation process under S189 was instrumental in addressing the company’s loss-making segments. This strategic move aims to preserve the long-term sustainability of Sibanye-Stillwater’s South African PGM operations. Froneman extended his gratitude towards all stakeholders for their constructive participation in the process, highlighting the shared goal of maintaining the company’s contributions and value to its diverse stakeholders.

This development underscores the complex dynamics within the mining sector, where companies must continuously adapt to economic pressures, operational challenges, and the well-being of their workforce. Sibanye-Stillwater’s approach to this restructuring process reflects a commitment to responsible management and stakeholder engagement, aiming to secure the future of its operations while mitigating the impact on its employees and contractors.

Source: Mining Review

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