THE mining sector in South Africa is expected to shed 200,000 jobs over the next 10 years mainly due to high wage settlements and labour unrest, Loane Sharp, labour economist at employment services group Adcorp, said on Wednesday after the release of a positive employment index by the group.
The country’s mining sector employs about 523,000 workers — far lower than the 839,000 the sector had in the late 1980s.
"The 200,000 estimate is based on historical trends in the mining sector. What we’ve noticed is that labour unrest results in long-term job losses in the sector," Mr Sharp said.
The index showed employment improved last month for the first time since April, rising an annualised 1.61% after declines in August. This meant that job gains amounted to 25,855 in the month mainly on jobs added in the services sectors.
The 25‚855 jobs gained partly reversed the decline of 82‚431 jobs observed in the four-month period of May-August.
Adcorp’s employment index is regarded as the most representative monthly barometer of employment trends in South Africa.
Parts of the mining sector have been troubled by work stoppages as workers strike for higher wages.
Adcorp found that over the past year, mining sector wages, including bonuses and overtime, increased 13.8% versus an 11.4% decline in labour productivity. "It reveals that the 25.2% absolute gap between labour costs and labour’s contribution is now the highest in recorded history," Adcorp said.
South Africa’s mines were responding rationally by reducing their dependence on labour, the group said.
"The labour unrest will simply lead mines to accelerate their capital intensive projects and labour-saving techniques," Mr Sharp said.
The Adcorp employment index showed that the mining and manufacturing sectors lost 14,000 jobs between them last month.
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