Gold mining giant AngloGold Ashanti will be cutting one third of its workforce in South Africa as part of a new restructuring strategy aimed at making a turnaround of its loss-making operations in the country.

According to AngloGold Ashanti, the decision to make nearly 8,500 jobs redundant out of the existing number of 28,000 roles in its South African business comes following a review of various options.

The gold miner stated that the restructuring of its production and cost base was needed to ensure the overall viability of its South African business for the long-term. Also, it revealed its intentions to protect employment at its reasonably profitable units in the Vaal River and West Wits regions.

AngloGold Ashanti CEO Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan said: “This is a difficult decision which follows a period of significant and – ultimately – unsustainable losses, and also the evaluation of the options available to return our South African business to profitability.

“It is critical that we act to protect the long-term sustainability of this business and the majority of our workforce. We are mindful of the sensitivity that this situation demands, and are committed to supporting all our employees throughout this process.”

AngloGold Ashanti has been plagued with the problem of some of its older mines reaching towards the end of their lifetime. The miner said that the TauTona and Kopanang mines, in particular, had registered considerable operating losses during last year.

Reacting to the massive job losses at AngloGold Ashanti, the National Union Of Mine Workers said that it was shocked at the move, especially at a time when the unemployment rate in South Africa has been quite high.

The NUM has demanded the company to rethink its position and create job opportunities instead of maximizing profits at the cost of mineworkers.

A statement from the mine workers union read: “The NUM will fight tooth and nail to make sure that its members are not retrenched cheaply. The NUM remain fearless, committed, dedicated and unshaken in fighting for the mineworkers.

“The NUM does not want to see mineworkers being retrenched.”

Image: AngloGold Ashanti’s operations at the Kopanang mining site. Photo: courtesy of AngloGold Ashanti.