A SOUTH African official has called the world's biggest platinum producer "arrogant" after it announced plans to cut 14,000 jobs and shut four shafts.
Mining Minister Susan Shabangu said Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) had not consulted properly with the government on the production cuts.
As a result, it was putting its mining licence in jeopardy, she told South African radio.
Amplats denied the claim and said the cuts were needed to stop losses. The price of platinum — a precious metal used in the production of car catalytic converters — was 10 per cent lower on average in 2012 compared with 2011. However, the price has rebounded since the New Year on concern about supply disruptions in South Africa, where 80 per cent of the metal is mined.
Workers at three Amplats mines in the Rustenburg region of South Africa, where most of the jobs are expected to go, downed tools in protest against the cuts on Wednesday, although only one of the three mines affected had been earmarked for closure.
Over 50 people were killed in strikes and unrest by miners in South Africa last year. Amplats, which is majority-owned by London-listed mining group Anglo American, plans to cease production at four loss-making mine shafts in Rustenburg.
Shares in Amplats fell 6.8 per cent on the news on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, while in London, Anglo American shares dropped 2.4 per cent.
The company said it would balance the 14,000 mining jobs that it plans to shed by creating a similar number of new jobs in housing, infrastructure and small business development.
The mining firm stressed the announcement was the start of a consultation process in which it would be speaking to the government and the unions.