Mining stakeholders urged to join forces

Mining stakeholders urged to join forces

The recent announcement by Anglo American Platinum that it plans to cut 727 jobs highlights the crucial need for management, employees and trade unions to join forces in ensuring economic survival to minimise the effects of job losses, says OIM International director Chris Jacobs.

He says: “Now, more than ever, South Africa’s mining houses must take steps to minimise closure and job losses and prevent labour unrest from taking place.”

The gold and coal mining sectors are also taking strain, with the contributing factors being lower commodity prices, inflationary increases and depleting orebodies.

“In addition, many mines are being forced to go deeper underground and that results in increased expenses, which they can’t afford and which also result in job losses,” he says.

Given all these factors, Jacobs emphasises that mining houses should focus on those areas they are able to control. “Lower commodity prices cannot be controlled directly by mining houses and will lead to further job losses if the situation is not arrested in a different way,” says Jacobs.

“Companies should consider long-term solutions to mitigate job losses. “If we pay attention to what economists are saying, the situation at hand will not improve dramatically overnight and the exchange rates, as well as inflation, will remain more or less the same.

“Having a micro or a short-term perspective will only add to the current strain that companies are under, as they are not able to predict what will happen. They need to plan by keeping in mind that the current issues at hand will be long-term.”

One solution suggested by Jacobs is that management and employees form partnerships. “There is no time for petty issues, which can potentially divide these three critical players in the industry,” Jacobs notes.

“We can develop a situation of trust . . . we can focus on important facts, such as the life of the mine, the orebodies that we are able to mine, as well as export costs and prices. “These are factors that we can understand,” concludes Jacobs.