400 workers laid off as Bokoni prepares for closure

Over 2,000 employees are expected to lose their jobs at money-losing operation in South Africa

Toronto-based Atlatsa Resources (TSXV:ATL) has made good on its stated intention to shut its Bokoni platinum mine in Limpopo province, South Africa.

The closure is part of a debt-cancellation and restructuring deal with joint venture partner Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), the world's number one platinum group metals miner.

SABC News reported last week that over 400 workers at Bokoni have already been let go, as the mine prepares to slam the brakes on its operations. Over 2,000 employees are expected to lose their jobs. A spokesman for the National Union of Mineworkers said the mine will be put under care and maintenance and each employee will receive a severance package of two and a half weeks for each year of service.

As part of a three-year turnaround program, Bokoni laid off more than 6,000 workers, a third of its workforce, in 2015 and last year halted open pit operations and expansion plans.

Amplats will write off around C$400m of Atlatsa debt and acquire two adjacent exploration blocks and mining rights at Bokoni. Amplats in July warned its half-year profits could fall by two-thirds due to a stronger South African currency, lower sales and impairments.

The South African mining sector has been under severe pressure amid labour disputes, rising costs and weak prices exacerbated by the introduction and subsequent suspension  in July of a new mining charter.