On 25 October 2023, Sibanye-Stillwater (JSE: SSW and NYSE: SBSW) advised that it would enter into consultations in terms of Section 189A of the Labour Relations Act, 66 of 1995 (S189) with organised labour and other affected non-unionised employees through their representatives regarding the possible restructuring of four shafts at its Southern Africa platinum group metal operations (SA PGM operations). Two of the shafts are mature, with one having ceased production in 2022 and the other at the end of its operating life due to the depletion of available economic ore reserves, with the remaining two shafts requiring restructuring to achieve sustainable production.


Above inflation increases in key cost components such as electricity and water tariffs, wages, fuel and other consumable costs over several years, combined with the recent decline in PGM prices during 2023 year to date (YTD) has significantly impacted the profitability of the global PGM industry, including Sibanye-Stillwater’s SA PGM operations. Certain operating shafts are now loss-making and pose a risk to the sustainability of the remaining operations.

Simunye shaft, Kroondal operation

Mining operations at the Simunye shaft, Kroondal operation, ceased during Q4 2022 as planned. Employees who have not yet been deployed to other shafts and are impacted by the final closure will be consulted in terms of the S189 process.

4 Belt (4B) shaft, Marikana operation

Operations at the 4 Belt (4B) shaft, Marikana operation, which already faced closure during the restructuring of the Marikana operation in H2 2019 but has continued operating for the last four years, has now depleted its economically extractable reserves and reached the end of its life. The closure of the 4B shaft will be subject to consultations with organised labour representatives and affected non-unionised employees.

Rowland shaft, Marikana operation

The Rowland shaft, Marikana operation, has not delivered as planned for an extended period due to various operational constraints and has achieved only 64% of planned production YTD. Remedial actions have failed to address this underperformance.  As an alternative to closure, management proposes a rightsizing of operations that will require a reduction in the employee complement to secure the longer-term viability of the shaft.

Siphumelele shaft, Rustenburg operation

The Siphumelele shaft, Rustenburg operation, experienced significant seismic activity during 2022 which, for safety reasons, restricted access to certain planned production areas.  As an alternative to closure, rightsizing of the workforce to support the current reduced average annual production forecast is proposed. Employees who have not yet been deployed to other shafts and are impacted by the final restructuring will be consulted in terms of the S189 process.

The proposed restructuring and shaft closures could potentially affect a total of 4 095 –        3 500 employees and 595 contractors, respectively – including support services employees.

Management therefore considers it prudent to commence with the S189 consultations process on the potential restructuring of the identified shafts together with associated support services and has invited affected employees and/or their representatives to engage in consultations as required by Section 189A of the Labour Relations Act.

The objective of the consultation process is to, amongst other things, consider alternative measures to minimise job losses and ensure the long-term viability of the Rowland and Siphumelele shafts. Various alternatives have already been considered by management and organised labour representatives in Future Forum meetings. All reasonable options that may be suggested by affected employees through their representatives to address the losses during the Section 189A consultation process will be welcomed and duly considered.

“We do not underestimate the potential impact of any form of restructuring and commit to constructively engaging with affected employees through their representatives in an effort to minimise job losses.  Unfortunately, it is imperative that we engage in this process to ensure the sustainability of our SA PGM operations and the benefits and value they bring to multiple stakeholders”, said Richard Stewart, chief regional officer, Africa.

Source:  Supplied Sibanye-Stillwater