The mining sector may have recorded a 3.9 percent growth in the second quarter of the year, but on the ground the picture is different.
On Tuesday, Stats SA released second-quarter GDP (gross domestic product) data that showed the economy expanded in the three months to June, ending the second recession in less than a decade.
The economy grew 2.5 percent in the second quarter.
However, in the mining sector thousands of workers in the industry are facing retrenchment.
AngloGold Ashanti, the world’s third biggest gold producer, said it would cut 8,500 jobs, while Sibanye Gold said 7,400 jobs excluding contractors were on the line amid the plan to place loss-making shafts on care and maintenance.
The Bokoni Platinum Mine in Limpopo is planning to mothball shafts for the next two years and is retrenching its staff of 2,651. It’s going into a two-year period of care and maintenance to regain its financial strength.
James Mokgotho has worked for Bokoni Platinum Mine for 19 years. The father of five is one of the workers at the mine facing possible retrenchment.
“All I want is to work and provide for my children, government must ensure that we are properly compensated by the mine, because it’s not us who said we don’t want to work, it’s this company that said is stopping operations,” he said.
The pending lay-off at Bokoni and a two-year operating break, doesn’t affect only mineworkers and their families.
Anna Makgoba’s small business serves mine employees. The mother of five says she has raised all her five children with the small income from her spaza shop.
“I’m sad because the mine came here and occupied some of our fields, we were not even compensated for that. We used to grow mealies and vegetables. Now they are telling us that the mine is going to stop working. What are we going to eat when they close?” said Makgoba.
Over the past six months Bokoni Platinum has seen operation losses about 500 million rand.
Mine management can’t say exactly when it will begin to place the mine under care and maintenance until all issues relating to the matter have been attended to including employees.
Meanwhile locals are concerned that the company’s plans will leave battling to put food on the table.