South Africans Lost 23,000 Mining Jobs In Just Four Months

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Written by Kevin Mwanza

According to South Africa’s Economic Development Ministry, more than 23,000 South African miners have lost their jobs since April as falling metal prices and lower demand for commodities globally hurt earning for local mining companies, The Irish Times reported.

Mining as an industry contributes about 7 percent to Africa’s second largest economy, but has come under pressure in recent years due to falling commodity prices on the international markets, rising cost of operations occasioned by frequent power cuts and protracted labor unrest.

“This is a blood bath of job losses in the mining industry,” National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) spokesman Livhuwani Mammburu told the CityPress newspaper recently.

NUM, a more than 200,000 membership union, said that several other thousands of workers could be at risk of losing their jobs if the notices the group has received from mining companies are actualized.

At least seven listed mining firms including Glencore, Kumba Iron Ore,  Lonmin and Anglo American Platinum have indicated they plan to cut thousands of jobs in coming months, but are facing pressure from unions and the government to keep their staff, Reuters reported.

Lonmin has put its employees on notice in recent weeks over its plans to cut over 6,000 jobs as it closes several mine shafts, a move it hopes will help it survive the plunging metal prices.

In a recent press briefing, Mining Resources Minister Ngoako Ramathlodi asked mining companies to consider rearranging their affairs and keep the jobs  instead of facing another bout of lethargic labor strikes like they did last year.

“I am saying we don’t want another prolonged strike, particularly in this environment. It’s a really bad environment,” Ramathlodi told journalists, ahead of the meeting in Pretoria.

“We want to save the mines, I hope very much that we find solutions,” he said.