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Strike threatens mine production

Gold Fields’ South
Deep mine – one of
a large number affected
by today’s strike
Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 23 July 2008 – Today’s strike in protest against rising power prices has involved thousands of South African workers from various walks of life, but is also threatening production at various of the country’s mines in four provinces.

The protest – called by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and its allies, which include the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) – is aimed at pressuring the government to limit price increases in Africa’s biggest economy, and to prevent possible job cuts in the wake of the power crisis which hit the country this year, Reuters reports. It is being held in the provinces of Gauteng, the Eastern Cape, North West and Limpopo.

Today’s strike is the third in a string of rolling protests this month that will culminate in a national strike on 2 August 2008, when the country’s mines – along with other businesses – are expected to grind to a halt in a massive worker stay-away.

In the line of fire are such mining companies as Anglo Platinum (Angloplat) – the world’s top producer of the precious metal – and the number two producer in the world, Impala Platinum (Implats), as well leading global gold producers AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields Limited and Harmony Gold.

Angloplat spokesman Simon Tebele does not know the impact of the strike at this stage. Implats says its biggest operation, in Rustenburg has so far not been hit, and that its smaller Marula mine was partially affected by the protest, but the impact on output was minimal.

AngloGold Ashanti – the world’s third largest gold producer – said today that four of its South African mines had been affected by a one-day strike. A company spokesperson said Great Nolingwa, Kopaneng, Tau Lekoa and Moab Khotsong had seen a turnout of up to 35%, but it was not immediately clear how much output would be lost. It would know the strike’s impact later.

Gold Fields reported today that its Kloof mine had been shut due to the strike, and that the mine would resume normal operations on Wednesday evening. The company’s South Deep mine had seen a limited impact on its output, but the mine’s surface operations and the development and construction work at the mine had been hit by a near-total absenteeism.

Harmony Gold says it expects to lose between 30 kg and 32 kg of gold output as a result of the strike.. A Harmony spokesperson said Harmony had three mines, one surface operation and five shafts affected by mineworker absenteeism, which was leading to the lost output.