This follows last week’s announcement by Kumba of plans to start consultation over retrenchments at its Kolonela and Sishen mines in the Northern Cape. Kumba announced plans to close the 80-year-old Thabazimbi Mine on Thursday, citing its age and the fact that its closure has been deferred six times over 15 years. The company said factors that had rendered the mine uneconomic included depleting reserves, the rising costs of mining and a slope failure in June.
The closure would affect 800 employees and 360 contractors.
“This is a bloodbath of job losses. It is a tragedy for the mineworkers and the community of Thabazimbi and its surroundings,” said Lucas Phiri, NUM chief negotiator at Kumba, adding that it could result in as many as 8 700 people being “without bread at the end of the day”.
NUM also argues that Kumba was not supposed to issue Section 189 notices of the Labour Relations Act before they had complied with section 52 of the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act of 2002, which states that if a company anticipated retrenching more than 10% of its employees it had to inform the minister of mineral resources. The union has called on the minister to intervene, without stating what the minister should do
“Our legal advice is that the S189 consultation should take place before that required by S52,” Yvonne Mfolo, executive head corporate affairs at Kumba, told ANA. “However, we have been in discussions with both the department of mineral resources and the unions regarding the situation at Thabazimbi. We will continue these discussions even as the formal S189 consultations are in progress at Thabazimbi.”