A striking Amplats worker
Johannesburg - Anglo American Platinum [JSE:AMS], the world's top producer of the precious metal, said on Monday the results of its business review, which is widely expected to lead to shaft closures and job cuts, would be published early in the New Year.
Amplats, a unit of global mining giant Anglo American [JSE:AGL], lost at least 191 000 ounces, worth over $300m at current spot prices, to wildcat strikes which ended earlier this month at several of its South African mines.
More will certainly be lost as the operations slowly ramp back up to full production.
If the Amplats' review leads to job cuts it could further stoke social tensions on the platinum belt. Over 50 people have been killed this year in labour violence, which has its roots in a union turf war and glaring income disparities in the grim shantytowns that ring the mines.
Spokesperson Mpumi Sithole, confirming a report in the Business Day newspaper, told Reuters the review would be presented to Amplats' board in January and made public shortly after that.
The review comes as the global mining group searches for a replacement for outgoing chief executive Cynthia Carroll.
Even before the strikes, part of a wave of deadly labour unrest that swept South Africa's mines this year, Anglo American was scrutinising its platinum operations as profits fell in the face of soaring costs and weak demand for the white metal used to build emissions-capping catalytic converters in automobiles.
South Africa is home to about 80% of the world's known platinum reserves and much of the industry is battling with falling profits.
But reduced South African supplies because of the strikes are lifting the metal's price and Nomura said last week in a research note to clients that the platinum price should climb with the profits and share prices of producers following.
The spot platinum price has gained about 15% year and is currently fetching around $1 604 an ounce.
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