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S.Africa mine owner to axe jobs at site where 34 were massacred

South African miner Sibanye-Stillwater on Wednesday announced it would cut around a fifth of the workforce at a struggling platinum mine where 34 strikers were killed by police in 2012.

More than 5,000 jobs at the Marikana mine in northern South Africa will go, in addition to 6,000 in the company’s gold mining operations, announced earlier this year.

In a statement, Sibanye-Stillwater said “Approximately 5,270 jobs (3,904 employees and 1,366 contractors) are expected to be lost due to the restructuring” at Marikana.

It blamed “ongoing financial losses experienced at these operations with certain shafts having reached the end of their economic reserve lives.”

Around 26,500 workers are currently employed at Marikana, one of the biggest single sources of labour in the country’s crucial mining sector.

The site was previously owned by major platinum miner Lonmin, which was bought earlier this year by Sibanya-Stillwater, South Africa’s biggest gold-mining operator.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) lashed the Marikana job cuts, saying the move shone a stark light on “the principle of profit over people”.

Precious metals which once fuelled South Africa’s prosperity are in decline, partly because of escalating costs incurred by the need to dig deeper to extract the minerals.

In 2012, a strike at Marikana was brutally repressed by the security forces, leading to the loss of 34 lives — the worst massacre since the end of apartheid in 1994.