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Renewed hope for threatened Amplats jobs: S.Africa media

Top global platinum miner Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) may put on hold restructuring plans that threaten 14,000 jobs in South Africa, a local newspaper reported on Sunday.

Amplats “could make an announcement as early as tomorrow (Monday) that it is willing to compromise on plans to retrench up to 14,000 workers, following a crisis meeting this week between the company, labour unions and the department of mineral resources,” the City Press newspaper said.

The platinum giant infuriated workers and authorities when it said on January 15 that it intended to restructure its strike-hit local operations, which could include the closure of four shafts and selling a mine considered unsustainable.

Mines Minister Susan Shabangu lashed out at the company for only informing the ministry a week before the announcement, saying it was “regrettable”.

The ruling ANC party meanwhile said that struggling operators should instead cede their exploitation rights to other companies instead of shutting down mines.

Amplats later agreed to talks with the government in which both sides pledged to “engage positively” in finding a solution.

Operations at Amplats were crippled by rolling strikes over wages that hit South Africa’s mining sector last year, leading mining companies to warn at the time that an inflated wage bill might make their perations unprofitable.

Aside from the strikes, the country’s mines have also been hit by high extraction costs, a lack of modernisation and stiffer global competition.

The vast majority of job cuts would be made around its main operations in Rustenburg, northwest of Johannesburg.