South African mining company Sibanye-Stillwater has announced the impending closure of its lossmaking 4 Belt (4B) shaft at the Marikana platinum operations, a move that is set to impact 855 jobs.

The decision follows the shaft’s failure to meet profitability conditions, as determined by the Section 189A process of the South African PGM (platinum group metals) operations, announced in October last year.

Sibanye noted that the shutdown, scheduled five years after the initial proposed closure in 2019, comes despite various successful initiatives and stronger PGM prices that had previously kept the shaft operational.

Since 23 February 2024, efforts to restore profitability have been unsuccessful, leading to the decision to cease operations at the 4B shaft.

Of the 1,496 workers and 54 contractors at the shaft, 643 employees have accepted voluntary separation or early retirement packages, while the fixed-term contracts of 93 employees will not be renewed.

Since 23 February 2024, 226 employees have left due to natural attrition and will not be replaced, while 65 employees and 54 contractors have been laid off.

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A total of 469 employees have been reassigned to other PGM operations within South Africa.

Earlier this month, Sibanye disclosed plans to restructure its South African gold operations, potentially affecting 3,107 employees and 915 contractors.

Additionally, the company confirmed that the Siphumelele shaft at its Rustenburg operation is on track to resume production in May.

On 29 February 2024, an incident at the Siphumelele shaft involving the collapse of an ore collector bin and conveyor system led to a production halt, although there were no injuries.

Repairs have progressed as planned, with all employees returning from leave on 15 April 2024 to begin start-up procedures.

The Siphumelele shaft is expected to produce an average of around 4,500oz of 4E PGM per month, contributing to around 3.5% of the annual production from the South African PGM operations.