/ 27 February 2008

Erwin: No clear link between power crisis and job cuts

It is unclear whether proposed job cuts in the mining industry are caused by power cuts and electricity rationing, or other factors, Public Enterprises Minister Alec Erwin said in Parliament on Wednesday.

”I’ve been a trade unionist for many years, and you often use an event like this to explain something you’re going to do anyway,” he told Parliament’s public enterprises committee.

Erwin said the minister of minerals and energy would meet with the mines on Thursday to discuss the matter.

Gold miner Gold Fields announced on Monday that Eskom’s 10% reduction in power supply to mines could ”potentially” affect 6 900 workers out of a total of 53 000 at all the company’s South African mines.

According to a statement on the company’s website, most of these job cuts would affect 4 900 workers at the Driefontein and Kloof gold mines. Two shafts and a shaft extension at Drieftontein, as well as two shafts at Kloof, would be mothballed, closed or scaled back.

Said Erwin: ”We would clearly like to accommodate the mining industry, that is why we are putting so much pressure on other sectors to save electricity.”

Business Report on Wednesday quoted AngloGold spokesperson Alan Fine as saying that the company has planned no job cuts as yet.

”[But] we can’t guarantee anything,” he told the newspaper. The company is managing, but the situation is not sustainable.

DRDGold spokesperson James Duncan said no job cuts are expected.

”Obviously, were the power situation to deteriorate, we might have to reconsider our current business model,” Business Report quoted him as saying. — Sapa