Sibanye-Stillwater PGM miners end illegal sit-in

AN illegal sit-in at the platinum group metal (PGM) operations of Sibanye-Stillwater had ended, the group said on Wednesday evening.

All employees exited the Kwezi shaft at Sibanye-Stillwater’s Kroondal mine safely having returned to surface by mid-afternoon yesterday.

“Now that the illegal sit-in has been resolved, the company will engage with employees and the representative unions in accordance with existing, standard processes and mechanisms,” Sibanye-Stillwater said.

The protest started on June 3 at Kroondal involving 211 employees who remained underground after the morning shift. A further 250 night shift employees are assembled on surface at K6 PGM shaft.

Employees were disgruntled after proceeds of an ESOP were paid out to miners at Sibanye-Stillwater’s Marikana and Rustenburg PGM mines that excluded Kroondal.

Sibanye-Stillwater said it planned to include the Kroondal employees once the acquisition of the Kroondal Pool and Share Agreement by Sibanye Rustenburg Platinum Mines was finalised. “The striking employees and their union representatives were well informed about the future date of inclusion into the Rustenburg ESOP,” said Sibanye-Stillwater on Tuesday.

The return to work at Kroondal is good news for Sibanye-Stillwater which needs every ounce of PGMs it can muster given the major reduction in prices last year which resulted in operating losses.

In February, the group decided to retrench 852 full time employees and contractors at its South African PGM mines.

In its latest restructuring annoucement on April 11, Sibanye-Stillwater said it was running the rule over 3,107 employees and 915 contractors, though not all would be lost. These were jobs at its gold mines and head office.

Sibanye-Stillwater announced R6.5bn worth of restructuring last year of which about half were at its US palladium and platinum mine Stillwater. The group called time on a proposed expansion of Stillwater to 700,000 ounces a year of palladium and platinum. Production for 2024 is expected to be between 440,000 to 460,000 oz.