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Zimbabwe’s Zimplats to peg workforce job cuts at 1%

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Zimplats’ CEO, Alex Mhembere, said on Wednesday that the firm would cut its staff by 1% and make other cost cuts to get through the sharp drop in platinum group metal (PGM) prices.

 

In March, Zimbabwe’s biggest platinum producer said it was giving voluntary job cuts to try to keep costs down as sales dropped. Southern African PGM miners, like Impala Platinum, Sibanye Stillwater, and Anglo American Platinum (parent company of Zimplats), have all had to cut costs and thousands of jobs because metal prices fell over the past year because of weak auto production and worries about a slowdown in the world economy.

“Through these current headwinds, we are only going to reduce our people by 1% of the total labour complement of 8,000 people that we have,” Mhembere told a PGM mining conference in Johannesburg.

Job cuts were “not the only lever that can sustain the business”, he said. The company wants to keep making about 600,000 PGM ounces a year, and Mhembere said that one way they plan to do that is by increasing production.

He said that Zimplats was cutting back on spending for its $1.8 billion, 10-year growth plan that was announced in 2021. He also said that the company would have “little capital” in its next fiscal year, which begins in July.

“We’re going to spend less. We will only be focusing on our replacement capital expenditure, stay-in-business capex and very little on growth capex,” Mhembere said.

Mhembere said that Zimplats didn’t think that Zimbabwe’s new gold-backed currency, which replaced the Zimbabwe dollar that was destroyed by inflation last week, would hurt their business.

“It is not a threat to us. We operate in United States dollars. This is a local currency and it will not affect our business,” he said.
In November, Reuters reported that Zimbabwean miners, who make a lot of money from exports, would see their profits drop almost 15% in 2024. Half of them are expected to report losses.

The country in southern Africa is famous for having a lot of gold, lithium, and platinum group metals (PGMs). A report from the Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines called Mining Prospects for 2024 said that the mining industry’s income and profit will be hurt by a mix of global and local forces in 2024.

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Nigeria: Court insists Binance executive can face trial on behalf of firm

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In an ongoing tax evasion case, a Nigerian court decided on Friday that Binance executive, Tigran Gambaryan, may go to trial on the cryptocurrency exchange’s behalf.

Binance and executives Gambaryan, a U.S. citizen and head of financial crimes compliance, and British-Kenyan national Nadeem Anjarwalla, a regional manager for Africa, face four counts of tax evasion. They are also accused of participating in specialized financial transactions without a license and laundering more than $35 million in another case.

All of them have entered not-guilty pleas on the allegations of money laundering. Following the court hearing on Friday, Binance’s attorney chose not to comment. The attorney for Gambaryan was similarly silent.

“We are deeply disappointed that Tigran Gambaryan, who has no decision-making power in the company, continues to be detained,” a Binance spokesperson said in a statement on Friday after the court hearing.

“These charges against him are completely meritless. He should be freed while discussions continue between Binance and Nigerian government officials.”

Gambaryan is still being held while Anjarwalla left the nation in March. The office of Nigeria’s security adviser has declared that it is collaborating with Interpol to pursue Anjarwalla’s detention.

After its executives were imprisoned as part of a crackdown on cryptocurrencies in February after being invited to the African nation for talks with officials, the CEO of Binance has warned Nigeria of establishing a dangerous precedent.

Nigeria’s Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has announced that Gambaryan may face prosecution on behalf of the exchange; Binance has not been accused in the tax evasion case.

According to prior statements from Gambaryan’s attorney, Gambaryan was “neither a director, partner, nor company secretary” and did not have any formal authorization from Binance to take on the accusations on the firm’s behalf.

Judge Emeka Nwite decided on Friday that Gambaryan, who is Binance’s chief financial compliance officer and was lawfully designated to represent the company in a meeting in Nigeria, should be served with the charges against Binance.

On Wednesday, Gambaryan is scheduled to appear in court and enter a plea on Binance’s behalf. On Friday, Gambaryan’s request for bail in the money laundering case was turned down. As the nation struggled with ongoing dollar shortages, cryptocurrency websites became the go-to venues for trading the Nigerian naira. Nigeria has blamed Binance for its currency problems.

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Nigerian govt denies reports it plans to borrow pension fund for infrastructure

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The Nigerian government has denied reports that it plans to borrow the N20tn pension fund to finance infrastructural projects.

In a statement made in Abuja, Wale Edun, the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, stated that the government would abide by the laws and guidelines in place pertaining to the pension fund.

Following a two-day Federal Executive Council meeting at the Presidential Villa on Tuesday, the minister reportedly informed reporters that the government would present a plan to use local funds, including the fund, to finance infrastructure development.

Edunstated that the government does not intend to exceed these legal boundaries, emphasising that the government was committed to protecting workers’ pensions.

“It has come to my notice that stories are making the round that the Federal Government plans to illegally access the hard-earned savings and pension contributions of workers. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

“The pension industry, like most the financial industries, is highly regulated. There are rules. There are limitations about what pension money can be invested in and what it cannot be invested in.

“The Federal Government has no intention whatsoever to go beyond those limitations and go outside those bounds which are there to safeguard the pensions of workers.

“What was announced to the Federal Executive Council was that there was an ongoing initiative drawing in all the major stakeholders in the long-term saving industry, those that handle funds that are available over a long period to see how, within the regulations and the laws; these funds could be used maximally to drive investment in key growth areas,” Edun clarified.

The plan to spend the pension fund was reported and was widely criticised. The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria and the Nigeria Labour Congress had earlier on Thursday urged the government to abstain from making any changes to the pension fund.

They stated, “Nigerian workers have entrusted their hard-earned savings for retirement security, not as a means for government projects. It is imperative to halt any further plans to tap into these funds, especially given the lack of transparency and accountability in past government borrowing practices.”

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