African chrome companies were hit by job cuts last week at
Xstrata Alloys and JIC Mining Services Ltd.
Rustenberg, South Africa-based
Xstrata Alloys on Nov. 2 said it dismissed 400 workers who were
on an illegal strike at its Rustenburg Mine.
Earlier the same day, the trade
union Solidarity said that Randjespark, South Africa-based
chrome mine contractor JIC Mining Services Ltd. was planning to
lay off more than 800 employees working at the South African
operations of Hernic Ferrochrome Pty. Ltd. and International
Ferro Metals Ltd. (IFM). The workers at Brits, South
Africa-based Hernic would be furloughed by the end of November,
with those at IFM, near Marikana, to come when their contract
comes to an end.
The dismissals are due to
different circumstances, but both companies have indicated that
a depressed market has been a factor.
Between 20 and 30 percent of the
roughly 690 workers at the Rustenburg Mine appealed their
dismissals within the prescribed 24 hours of receiving the
notice, an Xstrata Alloys spokesman told AMM sister
publication Metal Bulletin Tuesday.
"We are reviewing the appeals,
each on its merit, and will take things from there," he said.
"The mine is operating at very minimal levels, which is also
having an impact on the rest of the alloys business, including
the smelters. We need at least about half of our employees to
work the mine."
However, Xstrata might not
replace all of the employees not returning to work because the
chrome market is so depressed, he said.
"We will have to assess the need
to replace them," the spokesman said, adding that the National
Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has indicated
that it wants to file a blanket appeal on behalf of all their
The Hernic dismissals came about
when the ferrochrome producer changed its contract terms to
"tonnes hoisted" from "inventive payment," JIC Mining said.
This is a way for Hernic to save money in a tough market
environment, while Sydney-based IFMs contract is
"Ferrochrome output is running
at very reduced levels at all producers, and the chrome ore
market is not looking that great either," one analyst said. "In
tough markets, many mines move outsourced services in-house to
A version of this article was first published by AMM
sister publication Metal Bulletin.