JOHANNESBURG, Sep 4- Mining giant Anglo American has opened talks to sell platinum mines in South Africa to Sibanye Gold, the country’s biggest producer of gold, as the platinum industry struggles with falling prices and industrial unrest.
Prices for platinum, which is mainly used in jewellery and catalytic converters for vehicles, have dropped by about 40 percent since 2011, and are at their lowest in six years.
South Africa, which produces 70 percent of the world’s platinum, was also hit by a damaging five month strike by 70,000 platinum miners in 2014.
“Anglo American Platinum confirms that the company is in discussions with Sibanye in relation to the sale of its Rustenburg operations, which may or may not lead to a transaction,” the company said in a statement late Thursday.
London based Anglo American and rival Lonmin have both announced plans to reduce their workforce in South Africa, with trade unions warning 19,000 job cuts could already have been scheduled.
The government, mining companies and unions met on Monday in an attempt to negotiate a reduction in redundancies.
South African mining has been hit by China’s economic slowdown, which spooked stock markets worldwide in recent weeks and sparked a rout in emerging market currencies.
Johannesburg-based Impala Platinum, the world’s second biggest platinum producer, announced Thursday that its full-year profit slumped by 58 percent.