Reuters reported that South32 could cut about 500 jobs at its Hillside aluminium smelter in South Africa‘s coastal province of KwaZulu-Natal. Trade union Solidarity said in a restructuring the company said is designed to reduce costs and help it contend with volatility in commodities markets. It said that Australia-listed company is planning to cut 500 of the 1 300 employees at the Hillside site.

Solidarity’s deputy general secretary, Marius Croucamp, said in a statement that “The company indicated in its request to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) that it intends to cut its workforce by 500 jobs.”

Job cuts in Africa‘s most industrialised economy are politically sensitive, with the unemployment rate at more than 27% ahead of national elections this year.

A South32 spokeswoman said without elaborating that “The consultation is related to a proposed restructure of the business. The purpose of the proposed restructure is to reduce Hillside’s controllable costs and improve resilience to volatility in commodities markets.”