4,300 job losses on the cards for South Africa

 ·19 Feb 2024

Anglo American Platinum has proposed a restructuring that may affect more than 4,300 jobs across its South African operations, as plummeting metal prices squeezed profits.

Amplats, as the company is known, and its Johannesburg-based peers have endured a rapid reversal of fortunes.

Just two years ago, the firms were declaring bumper earnings as automaker demand pushed the price of rhodium and palladium – metals produced alongside platinum that are used to curb emissions from gasoline and diesel vehicles – to record levels. 

The company’s parent, Anglo American Plc, said in December that returns for miners of platinum-group metals were at the lowest level in 30 years. The restructuring could impact about 3,700 employees at Amplats — about 17% of its workforce — plus more than 600 contractors.

“It is apparent that further measures to create critical resilience and greater competitiveness are needed to sustain the business,” Chief Executive Officer Craig Miller said.

“These actions are necessary to enable the continued employment of thousands of workers and contractors.”

The price of the three key platinum-group metals has nosedived since the start of last year, with platinum losing 17%, palladium 43% and rhodium 64%. Destocking by the auto industry and weaker-than-expected demand from China accelerated the decline.

Amplats said profit tumbled 73% to R13 billion ($688 million) last year, from R49.2 billion in 2022.

Amplats said the so-called section 189A process, which is a precursor for the restructuring, involves a consultation period with labour unions and affected employees and will be facilitated by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.

Only when the consultation process is concluded will the final number of affected jobs be known, the company said.

Read: Warning over South Africa’s R500 billion ‘money pot’

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