Shabangu announces gold, platinum rescue plan – by Idéle Esterhuizen (MiningWeekly.com – May 28, 2013)

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JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu on Tuesday announced that her department would develop a rescue plan, aimed at placing South Africa’s wrecked platinum and gold sectors on a recovery path.

Delivering her department’s R1.39-billion Budget Vote in the National Assembly, she said Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) officials had been instructed to “urgently” look at a rescue plan for the gold and platinum sectors, focusing on supply- and demand-side interventions.

“The platinum and gold sectors, which are among the largest sectors of our mining industry in terms of employment, investment and revenue generation, are negatively affected by the persistent global economic environment, which has an adverse bearing on their long-term viability,” the Minister said.

Shabangu stated that South Africa’s recently concluded bilateral agreement with Russia, under which the countries agreed to cooperate on platinum group metals (PGMs) initiatives, would contribute to the creation of a suite of interventions necessary to stabilise the platinum industry.

“I invite PGM companies to work with my department to leverage the relations we have established with the Russian Republic.”

The news of a gold and platinum rescue plan comes as the world’s top platinum producer, Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), is contemplating thousands of job cuts in South Africa as part of a large scale restructuring process.

Amplats initially planned to shed 14 000 jobs, but following a meeting between President Jacob Zuma and the company’s chairperson Sir John Parker, job cuts had been reduced to 6 000.

Last week, Amplats, the DMR and labour unions announced that they had agreed on measures to preserve jobs. Trade union Uasa said on Tuesday that Amplats would now limit job losses to 1 300.

In her Budget Vote address, Shabangu also reflected on her meeting with mining executives on Friday, where the parties agreed on a programme of action to deal with the problems facing the industry. She described the meeting as a “bold and decisive action” to deal with a “crisis of perception” of both the country and the mining industry.

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