JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – South Africa’s insurgent Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) has called on Aquarius Platinum to reopen its Everest mine, which it placed on care and maintenance last month.
AMCU president Joseph Mathunjwa said on Monday that Aquarius should treat the Mpumalanga mine the same as its Kroondal operation, where it took over as owner operator from contractor Murray & Roberts Cementation.
“We invite Aquarius Platinum to urgently meet with all the stakeholders in order to come up with a strategy to save the mine,” Mathunjwa said at a media briefing in Johannesburg.
The ASX-, LSE- and JSE-listed company announced on June 21 that Everest would close, saying ramp-up challenges and the low platinum-group metals price environment rendered the mine uneconomic.
Mathunjwa said that AMCU met with Aquarius management in June, where it proposed that the company should form a task team to deal with the challenges at the operation. This task team was said to have been given three to six months to implement a turnaround strategy for Everest.
“If the company had realised six months ago that it was facing difficulty, it could have established a future forum in terms of Section 52 of the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act wherein all stakeholders could participate in [the search for] consensus,” Mathunjwa said.
AMCU claimed to represent about 1 100 of Everest’s 1 600-strong workforce.
Aquarius also placed its Marikana mine on care and maintenance and mothballed its Blue Ridge mine in 2011. Last week, it suspended all nonessential capital expenditure and converted from contract mining at Kroondal – its only remaining operational mine in South Africa.
CEO Stuart Murray has called on other platinum miners to also cut production to lift an oversupply in the market.
Aquarius' share price in London was down almost 6% on Monday to 43.3p and closed 4% weaker in Sydney at A$0.68 a share. In Johannesburg, the company traded flat at R5.62 a share.