South Africa needs to take “bigger interest and control” of mines amid plans by Anglo American Plc (AAL) and its platinum unit to cut output, said Gwede Mantashe, secretary-general of the ruling African National Congress.
“They have stolen our money,” Mantashe said in an interview on Johannesburg-based SAfm radio today. “They are a British company now. They have a responsibility to talk to South Africa on the operations.”
Anglo American Platinum Ltd., which is controlled by London-based Anglo American, said Jan. 15 it planned to cut 400,000 ounces of platinum production a year, or 7 percent of global output, to return to profitability. The restructuring could result in as many as 14,000 job losses. Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu said the government could revoke mining licenses owned by Anglo if it continues with its proposal.
Discussions are continuing between the government and Anglo American Platinum, Zingaphi Jakuja, a spokeswoman for the Department of Mineral Resources, said in a telephone interview. The talks are “sensitive,” she said. Pranill Ramchander, a Johannesburg-based spokesman for Anglo American, declined to comment.
Producers in the continent’s largest economy shut nine platinum-mine shafts and dismissed 3,332 workers in the second half of last year, according to the Department of Mineral Resources. Strikes have led to above-inflation wage gains as companies face higher production costs.
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union wants the government to “reissue” mining permits that aren’t being used by companies such as Anglo American Platinum, known as Amplats (AMS), AMCU President Joseph Mathunjwa said on Jan. 17.
“As long as this country is run by the foreigners, we are far from any solution,” and the government should take definitive action on resource ownership, Mathunjwa said.
The AMCU represents 26,000 workers at Amplats’s operations, he said. The company had 51,200 employees in 2011, according to the most recent annual report on its website.
The ANC in December rejected proposals to nationalize mines in favor of higher taxes in the world’s largest producer of platinum, ending uncertainty for companies including Anglo American, which owns 79.8 percent of Amplats.
The company plans to create 14,000 jobs focused on housing and small business development in areas including Rustenburg, it said in announcing its review Jan. 15.
“The ANC is not persuaded by this argument and the scant detail provided on the so-called creation of an equivalent number of new jobs suggests to us that we are all being spun a yarn,” Jackson Mthembu, spokesman for the party, said in a statement following Amplats’ announcement.
The ANC wants Shabangu to revoke some Amplats licenses and auction them, he said.
Amplats rose 0.4 percent to 440 rand by the close in Johannesburg, ending a seven-day losing streak. Anglo American retreated 0.5 percent to 267.34 rand.
They shouldn’t “deal with South Africa as a junior partner,” Mantashe said. “It means that if there is a problem you engage on problems with South Africa.”
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