Johannesburg, South Africa — 12 October 2012 – Striking gold miners in South Africa have rejected the industry’s latest wage offer, one of the trade unions has revealed, dimming hopes that wildcat strikes that have paralysed the sector could end anytime soon.
Reuters reports that since August, almost 100,000 workers across South Africa “’ including 75,000 in the mining sector “’ have downed tools in often illegal and violent strikes that are hitting economic growth and undermining investor confidence in the minerals hub.
“This was a final offer from the companies. They said take it or leave it,” said National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) spokesman Lesiba Seshoka. “Now that it has been rejected our options have been exhausted.”
Africa’s top two bullion producers, AngloGold Ashanti and Gold Fields, have been hit by an estimated 48,000 miners taking to the streets to fight for higher wages.
The action is costing AngloGold 32,000oz of gold each week, while Gold Fields is losing 2,300oz a day at the two mines that have been affected. Gold Fields
The companies said they would respond later via the Chamber of Mines, the industry body that has been negotiating on their behalf.
The wildcat strikes, which started in the platinum industry and then spread to other mining companies and beyond, have raised questions about President Jacob Zuma’s leadership and tarnished South Africa’s reputation among foreign investors.
Africa’s biggest economy is home to 80% of known reserves of platinum. The price of the precious metal has risen more than 20% since police shot 34 miners on August 16 in the bloodiest security incident since the end of apartheid in 1994. The overall death toll from the labour unrest has risen to more than 50, and the violence is continuing.
The government estimates that gold and platinum production worth R4.5 billion has been lost to the strikes so far, along with R118 million in lost coal production.
Source: Reuters Africa. For more information, click here.