While acknowledging the restructuring was "drastic", the South African producer said the moves were required to transition it into sustainability for the future. The changes will be implemented over a two-year period in order to reduce socio-economic impacts and mitigate risk.
In addition to its drop down to six operating shafts and 27,000 labourers, the company will reduce its future production from 750,000 platinum ounces per year to 520,000.
CEO Nico Muller said that it will be reducing exposure to higher-cost, less flexible and labour-intensive operations, so it can boost its flexibility, capacity and sustainability in the changing market conditions.
"This strategic orientation has been informed by a significant decline in the US$ platinum price and sustained high mining cost inflation," he said, pinpointing the Western Limb of the Bushveld complex as an area with high cost pressures.
"Over the past few years, Impala Rustenburg has initiated various measures to return the operation to profitability. While there have been many improvements, these optimisation measures alone have not been sufficient to secure the economic viability of the operation in the prevailing low platinum price environment."
Implats said it will explore commercial options to dispose of those shafts that are no longer a fit for its long-term portfolio.
"While employee rationalisation is inevitable in a restructuring process of this nature, due care will be taken to ensure that job losses are minimised as far as possible through a range of job-loss avoidance measures," Muller said, adding in media interviews that 1,500 cuts will be made in the first round.
The miner stressed the changes, along with its implementation of the Impala Rustenburg transformation, will position it well for profitability in the future, even with the metal market where it is today.
"It will significantly improve the position of the group to sustainably deliver improved returns … in the medium to long term."