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More than 21,000 mining jobs on the line in South Africa

Workers marched to AngloGold Ashanti’s head office in Johannesburg. Photo by National Union of Mineworkers.

Representatives from South Africa’s National Union of Mineworkers marched to AngloGold Ashanti’s (JSE:ANG) head office in Johannesburg to protest against the company’s decision to cut 8,500 jobs at its Carletonville operation.

Concerned about the steps taken by the world’s third-biggest gold producer, who said it is uneconomical to mine Carletonville’s shafts, and by Bokoni Platinum Mine’s plan to cut over 2,600 permanent jobs by next month, NUM’s president Piet Matosa is threatening with a general strike in coming days.

Sibanye Gold also announced it will restructure operations at its Cooke and Beatrix mines, a move that could affect 7,400 of its employees and 3,000 contractors.

Despite the fact that Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane has been implicated in the Gupta family scandal related to undue political influence in the South African government by the Oakbay owners, the labour movement wants both him and President Jacob Zuma to intervene as soon as possible.

Yet, Zwane held a meeting last Friday with Sibanye chief executive, Neal Froneman, and the only thing he said following the encounter was that he was “concerned by the retrenchment announcements” and that he wanted stakeholders “to be more responsible in how these planned retrenchments are announced.”

NUM, a union with more than 300,000 affiliate members, dubs the current situation “a jobs bloodbath” carried out as a political move against workers. The organization is also worried about the possibility of illegal mining activities proliferating across the country as people find themselves unemployed.