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Harmony Gold cutting jobs at S. African mine to turn around operation

Harmony Gold cutting jobs at S. African mine to turn around operation

Kusasalethu is the fifth deepest mine in the world. (Image courtesy of Harmony Gold).

Harmony Gold (NYSE:HMY), South Africa’s third-largest bullion producer, said Tuesday it will cut jobs at its troubled Kusasalethu mine to try returning the operation to a profit, as it has consistently recorded losses since September 2012.

Kusasalethu, which is Harmony’s largest mine by output, has been hit by strikes, union rivalry, technical glitches and a shutdown needed to remove illegal miners.

Chief executive officer Graham Briggs said the company has begun a 60-day consultation with unions at the mine, which employs about 6,300 people including contractors.

During this time, the parties will consider avoidance measures that may include offering voluntary separation and early retirement packages to employees as well as seeking to transfer as many employees as possible to vacancies that exist elsewhere in the company.

“We need to be both decisive and mindful in our actions so that we preserve the viability of this mine for several decades to come,” Briggs said. “Without these actions, this mine will not survive and that would indeed be a tragedy for our company, our employees, our communities and our country.”

The new plan for the mine —located about 75 kilometers west of Johannesburg— will involve digging a lower volume of ore at higher grades and reduced cost, Harmony said.