South Africa lifts Glencore’s Optimum coal operation suspension

9 August 2015 (Last Updated August 9th, 2015 18:30)

South Africa has conditionally withdrawn a previously ordered licence suspension for Glencore's Optimum coal mine.

South Africa has conditionally withdrawn a previously ordered licence suspension for Glencore's Optimum coal mine.

Mines Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi announced the decision after completing consultations with the company and reaching an agreement that addressed the department's concerns over job cuts.

Last week, the minister ordered the company to suspend all operations at its mine over downsizing, and said that the company had failed to implement a proper social labour plan.

"The company engaged on the issues of concern, which resulted in the minister suspending their operating licence."

Glencore's decision to reduce the workforce was part of its plan to close several operations following a 32% slump in coal prices since the beginning of last year.

Further, the company said that finances at Optimum were under pressure as it was supplying coal to power company Eskom at prices lower than production costs.

Ramatlhodi spokesman Mahlodi Muofhe told Reuters: "The company engaged on the issues of concern, which resulted in the minister suspending their operating licence.

"There is consensus to remedy the issues of concern."

Bloomberg quoted Glencore spokesman Gugulethu Maqetuka saying that, with regard to the retrenchment process and the conditions of its mining right, the company had complied with all legal requirements.

Glencore announced in July that it planned to cut 380 jobs at the mine and close part of its operations due to weak coal prices.