Sibanye CEO Neal Froneman.  Picture: MARTIN RHODES
UPBEAT: Sibanye CEO Neal Froneman addresses the media on the group’s results in Sandton on Thursday. Picture: MARTIN RHODES

SIBANYE Gold would be unlikely to go ahead with the acquisition of platinum mines in the Rustenburg area should the Competition Commission insist on a condition of no merger-specific retrenchments, the Competition Tribunal heard.

Neither shareholders nor management would accept such stringent conditions for a deal that would require billions of rand of capital spend, Sibanye CEO Neal Froneman told a hearing in Pretoria on Monday.

In January, Sibanye shareholders approved the purchase of three Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) mines for at least R4.5bn. The acquisition of Bathopele, Siphumelele and Thembelani would be its first foray into platinum. Sibanye is also acquiring Aquarius Platinum.

Instead of a moratorium, the merging parties submitted that a cap could be placed on merger-specific job cuts — largely at the executive management level.

Their submission entails 250 job losses at the Rustenburg mines, while a further 260 could go during consolidation, including at Aquarius’s operations.

In submissions from organised labour, the National Union of Mineworkers, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, Solidarity and Uasa all said they understood Sibanye’s arguments, but were unanimous that a moratorium on retrenchments would allow affected the mines’ employees to be retrained.

Amplats submitted on Monday it would probably place much of the operations under care and maintenance if Sibanye’s acquisition were blocked. This meant 13,500 jobs would be at risk, Amplats head of strategy Martin Poggiolini said.

Mr Froneman said Sibanye proposed spending about R1bn a year developing the assets, extending their life through efficiencies such as a flatter management structure.

Asked if Sibanye would proceed with the deal with prohibitions in perpetuity on merger-specific retrenchments, he said: "The simple answer is no. Our shareholders would not allow that, and we would not pursue it as management."