Amplats plans 6,000 job cuts in South Africa

Striking platinum miners march near the Anglo-American Platinum mine near Rustenburg, South Africa, 5 October 2012
Image caption South African mining was hit by wave of wildcat strikes last year

Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) is planning to cut 6,000 jobs at its South African mines, which were hit by violent labour unrest last year.

The layoffs would save the company 2.3bn rand ($256m; £160m) in costs, said chief executive Chris Griffith.

As a result, platinum production will fall by 250,000 ounces this year and by 100,000 ounces a year in the future.

The firm reported its first loss last year following the disruption caused by strike action.

Amplats is 80%-owned by minerals conglomerate Anglo American.

Most of the layoffs will affect the platinum belt city of Rustenburg.

The 6,000 job losses are significantly fewer than an earlier proposal in January to shed 14,000 jobs.

However, Simon Hlongwane, a branch secretary for the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), said: "Jobs must not be lost."

He added: "Where will 6,000 people in this economy go? They will engage in criminality. We as AMCU stand ready to fight."

Production at the Rustenburg mine was disrupted for eight weeks in 2012 following illegal strike action. At the time, Amplats said that the strikes had cost it 700m rand ($80m; £50m) in revenue.

In January, Amplats announced a major restructuring plan that would cut 14,000 jobs and save $420m (3.8bn rand) a year.

A month later the company reported a 6.33bn rand operating loss for the 2012 financial year 2012, with output down 8% to 2.2 million ounces. In 2011, it had reported a profit of 7.97bn rand.

Violent strikes in the platinum and gold industry claimed more than 50 lives last year, including 34 striking miners at a nearby platinum mine run by Lonmin.

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