Gold miners join the waves of strikes in SA

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July 28, 2011

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South African miners
“’ joining the strike
wave in increasing
numbers
 

Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 28 July 2011 – Tens of thousands of South African gold miners are downing tools today, intensifying a nationwide wave of strikes and potentially costing the gold mining sector US$25 million a day in lost output.

At the same time, unions representing coal workers were set to meet the Chamber of Mines in a last-ditch bid to end a wage strike in that industry as well.

Some 100,000 workers at AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields, Harmony Gold and another smaller mining group were due to go on strike after shifts end at 1800 local time.

“There will be a total shutdown of the entire gold mining industry for it is inconceivable how the industry could want to give workers an increment of only 7% when the gold price is at a record high,” said a statement from the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which wants 14% from the gold producers.

Reuters reports that in other sectors, an almost three-week strike in the petroleum industry that sparked panic buying at the pumps looked like it might end, while another in the platinum industry loomed.

Union leaders are to meet petroleum industry officials today to say whether a revised offer had been accepted, said Nerine Kahn, director of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, South Africa’s labour mediator.

Markets will also be watching the outcome of today’s talks between the unions and Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), the world’s No. 1 producer which accounts for about 40% of global production. The two sides remain poles apart with the NUM demanding 20% and Amplats’ last public offer at 4.6%.

Workers are also striking at diamond miner De Beers.

Some economists warn that rising labour costs are eroding South Africa’s status as an investment destination since its workforce is already more expensive and less productive than those found in many of its emerging market rivals.

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