Black- owned training academy, Artisan Training Institute (ATI), is currently reporting a training capacity running at 80%, but said this level of activity could drop off during the second and third quarters if expected retrenchments in the mining sector continue.

This was confirmed by ATI co-founder and director, Mandisa Nyathikazi, who said that while ATI had gotten off to a good start in the new year, “fallout from any retrenchments will only be felt during the second, and possible only the third, quarters of the year.”

What is of concern, said Nyathikazi, is that although South African workers had generally received annual pay hikes exceeding the inflation rate for the past six years, ongoing wage discontent and strikes continued to hamper the growth of the South African economy.

“Amplats, the largest platinum producer in the world – and majority owned by Anglo America – has announced that it will report a loss for the full year due to the impact of strikes last year. This is of great concern as they are predicting potential job losses in the region of 14, 000 workers.

Meanwhile workers at Harmony Gold’s suspended Kusasalethu mine near Carletonville have been told that they have 60 days to avoid losing jobs. Harmony Gold, which faces a cost of around R400 million to put the mine under care and maintenance – and to retrench workers – issued a section 189 notice to its 6 000 employees at the mine last week. The workers were given 60 days to respond.

“These events are serious ones and they do not auger well for the mining industry – or the overall economy at large,” said Nyathikazi. “This kind of news makes overseas investors exceedingly nervous.”

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