Johannesburg, South Africa — 16 October 2012 – Africa’s largest gold producers will pursue legal remedies instead of continuing talks with unions after South African strikes widened, idling half of the nation’s output of the metal, according to  the Solidarity union.

AngloGold Ashanti Limited, Gold Fields Limited and Harmony Gold Mining Company will look at a new negotiating model once order and stability is restored, and won’t raise an earlier offer to workers, Solidarity head Gideon du Plessis told Bloomberg News by mobile phone.

He was commenting after talks between the Chamber of Mines industry body and unions including the largest, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

Platinum, iron ore and chrome mines have also been disrupted by stoppages as miners bypassed unions to demand above-inflation pay increases in South Africa, where consumer prices rose by 5% in August.

The country’s sovereign rating was cut last week by Standard & Poor’s, which cited concern that strikes were causing political and social unrest and adding pressure on government spending.

Workers resumed an unauthorised strike at the East section of Gold Fields’ Kloof-Driefontein Complex (KDC) late yesterday, the company said. Production at the entire complex, Africa’s largest gold mining operation, has now been suspended as about 19,500 of the complex’s 26,700 workers are on strike, it added.

“The current impasse is extremely unfortunate, not only for the industry and its employees, but also for future growth and development in South Africa, given the critical role that gold mining plays in our country’s economic development,” Chamber of Mines senior executive for employer relations Elize Strydom said in an e-mailed statement.

All of AngloGold’s local operations were halted by wildcat strikes by Sept. 25. The company, the world’s third-largest gold producer, is losing 30,000 to 32,000oz a week.

AngloGold produced about 306,000oz in South Africa in the first quarter. Gold Fields’ KDC and Beatrix mines produced about 328,900oz, while Harmony’s Kusasalethu mine, also on strike, yielded 39,256 ounces. The nation’s total gold output was 1.35Moz in the quarter, according to the chamber.

Source: Bloomberg News. For more information, click here.