October 16, 2017 / 2:12 PM / in a month

Sibanye-Stillwater shelves plans to shut some South African operations

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Sibanye-Stillwater on Monday abandoned plans to close some of its platinum operations in South Africa after it achieved bigger than expected cost-savings from recently acquired businesses.

Mine workers employed at Sibanye Gold's Masimthembe shaft operate a drill in Westonaria, South Africa, April 3, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings/File Photo

Sibanye said in January it might cut up to 330 jobs in platinum operations acquired from Anglo American Platinum and Aquarius Platinum.

Lay-offs are a difficult issue in South Africa were the unemployment rate is around 27 percent, income disparities are big and unions are known for their militancy. The platinum belt has been a flashpoint of labour unrest and violence.

Sibanye said its platinum group metals (PGM) operations in southern African delivered “solid operational results” in the first-half of 2017, prompting an upward revision to its 2017 production forecast and a downward revision to guided costs.

“While we anticipate further opportunities to reduce costs and unlock operational synergies over time, the South African PGM operations are now well positioned to benefit from firmer PGM prices,” CEO Neal Froneman said in a statement.

Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg. Editing by Jane Merriman

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