Platinum crisis: 33 managers lose jobs at Mimosa, US$100m expansion project on hold

Mimosa Mine: Expansion on hold (pic: Chris Scott)

Mimosa Mine is retrenching 33 managers and abandoning a key expansion project, in the latest damaging response by platinum producers to falling global metal prices.

The company says platinum prices fell by 35% since April last year, hitting its cash flows and profits.

“The outlook is that the prices will remain depressed in the medium term. In view of this, we have had to implement several measures to ensure that our business remains viable in the low-price metal environment,” Mimosa says in a statement. “This has resulted in a staff rationalisation exercise, which has affected 33 managerial and supervisory employees.”

Mimosa has offered severance to 34 employees while nine opted for early retirement. “No further rationalisation of the permanent staff complement is planned at this stage.”

Mimosa previously said it planned to spend up to US$100 million to develop a new mining area, called North Hill. This area has a resource of 1.5 million ounces of platinum. It would replace the South Hill area, which is running out. The company has had to abandon this plan, according to results released earlier by Sibanye Stillwater, the South African miner that co-owns Mimosa with Impala Platinum.

On Tuesday, Sibanye reported that it had made a loss of US$2 billion after a sharp drop in prices, with its American palladium mines taking the hardest hit. Sibanye made a record profit in 2021 and a US$1.2 billion profit in 2022. These profits have been wiped out by the platinum price rout in 2023.

Neal Froneman, CEO of Sibanye, said that if current metal prices persisted “earnings are going to remain under pressure and, with ongoing inflationary cost pressure, there may be further restructuring required”.

The commodity price crisis will deeply affect Zimbabwe, which depends on minerals for most of its foreign currency earnings and for paying off foreign debts. Zimplats has also postponed some of its expansion projects, while Karo Platinum has pushed back construction of its new mine at Selous.

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