Implats tables plans to lay off 3 900 workers

Implats CEO Nico Muller cited persistently lower commodity prices for the move. Photo: Supplied

Implats CEO Nico Muller cited persistently lower commodity prices for the move. Photo: Supplied

Published Apr 26, 2024


IMPALA Platinum (Implats) yesterday announced that it had issued a notice to begin consultations in terms of Section 189(3) of the Labour Relations Act that would likely affect 3 900 mineworkers at its three South African operations.

Implats said a labour force reduction at its Rustenburg, Marula and Impala Bafokeng operations would see a reduction of 9% of its workforce, in addition to a 30% cost reduction exercise at its head office.

Implats said: “The proposed restructuring could potentially affect approximately 3 900 positions, equating to a 9% reduction in labour across the Group’s Impala Rustenburg, Impala Bafokeng and Marula operations, as well as at the corporate office which is targeting a 30% reduction in head office costs.”

Implats CEO Nico Muller cited persistently lower commodity prices for the move.

Muller said the company’s objective to curtail operations and expenditure in response to prevailing platinum group metals (PGMs) price weaknesses would ensure each that the affected business units contributed sustainably and profitably through the fluctuations of PGMs cycles.

“PGMs pricing has declined sharply since the start of 2023, which together with persistent inflationary pressures on input costs has resulted in significant pressure on profitability and cashflow across the entire PGM sector, our operations included,” Muller said.

He added that global macroeconomic uncertainty and rising geopolitical tensions were presenting additional downside risks to PGMs miners.

Resultantly, Implats had “assessed and revised its business planning parameters and contemplated various measures to optimise operational” efficiencies and resources although there had been no respite.

“Cost-saving, capital-deferment and voluntary labour-reduction initiatives to date have not sufficiently offset the impact of persistently lower prices,” Muller said.

“This has significantly undermined Implats’ financial position, which in turn threatens future job security for the entire workforce. Implats management therefore considers it necessary to commence the Section 189(3) process.”

Implats emphasised that it was committed to fair and transparent consultation processes regarding the planned lay-offs.

As such, said Muller, “no final decision has been taken regarding the proposed restructuring, and no final decision will be taken prior to full and proper consultation” with the employees.

The lay-offs planned by Implats are likely to ruffle feathers among labour unions that have been resisting retrenchments across the domestic PGMs industry.

Platinum miners are retrenching to save costs and have started to restructure their operations by curtailing capital investment and shutting down some operations.

This week, Anglo American Platinum also said it had moved ahead with negotiations with labour unions in a bid to retrench workers after it reported lower production and flat PGMs sales for the first-quarter period ended March.