South African miner cuts jobs and closes mines

A photograph of the Anglo American Mine in Rustenburg, South Africa. The company announced Tuesday, Jan. 13, that it plans to shut down some of its South African mines and cut around 14,000 jobs.

The world's largest platinum producer Anglo American Platinum, also known as Amplats, is planning to close down some of its South African mines and cut around 14,000 jobs. The announcement comes after a review of operations that was aimed at boosting profits and making the business more stable.

The restructuring will cut the company's platinum output by around a fifth. The company suffered after a series of strikes across the mining sector in South Africa at the end of last year in which mineworkers were demanding higher wages. But the BBC's reporter Matt Davies says although the strikes last year may have been a warning sign for the company, the review was started months before, after costs had risen dramatically over a number of years.

Mining dominates the South African economy and the job cuts represents about 3 percent of the mining workforce. Davies says that's a huge blow, "in a country where 25 percent of people are out of work -- and actually young people, under 25, nearly half of them are out of work -- so this is actually quite a big headache for the ANC government."

Amplats says it will aim to replace the jobs losses through various housing and small business initiatives but analysts are sceptical that such work would fill the gap. The unions representing workers at Amplats have already threatened a major strike if the closures go ahead.

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