“Machines don’t groan, go on strike, don’t belong to a union, won’t take you to court over an injury…” This was a pro-mechanisation representative from an esteemed mining house during debate on SABC 3 animatedly defending his stance.
With mine workers spending more time picketing than in shafts, mining companies are now seriously considering mechanising some of their operations. However, Phuti Mahanyele Chief Executive Officer of Shanduka which is a shareholder in platinum mines holds a different view. With potential buyers of the “non-performing” assets that are to be disposed by Anglo American Platinum Ltd likely to need a leaner workforce, Chief Executive Officer of Shanduka, he suggested that new owners will have to consider the option of engaging labour first before mechanising their operations. “Going the mechanized route is an aggressive approach.”
Mechanisation will be a extraordinary departure from the labour-dependency tradition of the country’s mines, which have profited from using cheap black labour from the days of apartheid.