Mantashe lashes Gold Fields over job cuts

14 August 2018 - 13:56
By Timeslive
Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe.
Image: Simphiwe Nkwali © Sunday Times Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe.

Mining company Gold Fields' announcement of its plans to cut up to 1‚560 jobs has prompted a stern reaction from Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe.

He said in a statement on Tuesday the company's decision to go ahead with its restructuring plans was made "without due regard to processes in the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA)".

Mantashe said he met with the Goldfields CEO and his executives on Monday and was briefed on the company’s plans. The minister said he asked the company to follow the processes outlined in Section 52 of the MPRDA‚ prior to embarking on any retrenchments.

“We are beginning to notice a worrying trend where some mining companies do not meaningfully engage with the department on their restructuring plans‚ and only brief us as a mere formality or tick-box exercise‚ ignoring processes outlined in the law which are binding to every mining right-holder‚” Mantashe said.

“To this end we will be initiating a follow-up meeting with the Minerals Council‚ to take forward our discussions when we met two weeks ago‚ on how we can together address investment‚ growth‚ employment and youth challenges facing the sector and economy.

"It is our view that the spirit in which Gold Fields is engaging contravenes the agreed approach and the laws governing the sector‚” the minister said.

Mantashe appealed to the company to "engage meaningfully" with the department and the labour unions on this matter‚ in the interests of the sustainability of the sector and the economy.

BusinessLIVE reported earlier on Tuesday that Gold Fields is preparing to lay off up to 1‚560 people at its loss-making South Deep mine‚ marking yet another attempt at restoring the operation‚ which has absorbed R32-billion so far.

Gold Fields CEO Nick Holland ruled out a closure or sale of the mine‚ saying the board had given all options long deliberation and had decided the best value for shareholders would be from retaining South Deep and earning back the investment it had made in buying the mine for R22-billion and then spending another R10-billion in trying to ramp it up to steady and profitable production since 2006‚ according to the report.