Amplats weighs cutting 3700 jobs

Moneyweb writes that Anglo American Platinum has proposed a restructuring that may affect 3 700 jobs across its South African operations, as plummeting metal prices squeeze profits. The potential cuts impact about 17% of the workforce at the company known as Amplats, plus more than 600 firms whose contracts with the miner are to be reviewed. In December, the company’s parent Anglo American Plc warned that returns for miners of platinum-group metals were at the lowest level in 30 years. Despite taking steps last year to reposition the business, Amplats Chief Executive Officer Craig Miller said it’s clear they don’t go far enough.

“It is apparent that further measures to create critical resilience and greater competitiveness are needed to sustain the business,” Miller said in a statement Monday. “These actions are necessary to enable the continued employment of thousands of workers and contractors.” Acting Chief Financial Officer Sayurie Naidoo said Amplats is targeting annual savings of R5 billion ($263 million). The price of PGMs — used to curb emissions from gasoline and diesel vehicles — has nosedived since the start of last year due to auto industry destocking and a subdued global economy. That’s a rapid reversal of fortunes for Amplats and its Johannesburg-based peers. Just two years ago, the firms were declaring bumper earnings as automaker demand pushed the price of rhodium and palladium – metals produced alongside platinum – to record levels.

“The outlook for automotive demand is likely to be flat,” so “prices will probably hover around current levels” this year, Miller said in an interview. Amplats said profit tumbled 73% to R13 billion last year, from R49.2 billion in 2022. The company slashed its dividend by 81% to R21.30  per share. The miner’s shares steadied in Johannesburg trading, after falling 24% this year. Impala Platinum Holdings and Northam Platinum Holdings have also flagged a slump in earnings, with the former offering voluntary redundancies. Four month ago, Sibanye Stillwater said it was entering talks with labour unions over a restructuring that could impact more than 4 000 workers at its platinum mines. At Amplats, most of the jobs at risk are at the Amandelbult mine – where production fell 11% in 2023 – and in its processing division, which is due to mothball one of the firm’s smelters this year, according to Miller.

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.

By Ana Monteiro, Bloomberg 

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