Gold Fields Sets Oct. 18 Ultimatum for Miners to End Strikes
Gold Fields Ltd. (GFI), having lost more than 65,000 ounces of gold production due to strikes at its South African operations, said it will dismiss miners who fail to return to work by Oct. 18 at its KDC West and Beatrix plants.
“The company has exhausted all reasonable alternatives,” Chief Executive Officer Nick Holland said on a conference call today from Johannesburg, where the company is based.
About 15,000 workers are still on strike at the two operations. At KDC East, the company applied for a court injunction today to declare a stoppage by about 8,500 illegal.
AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. (ANG), the world’s third-largest producer, Harmony Gold Mining Co. have also been hit by stoppages as workers demand higher pay increases than those labor unions secured. Anglo American Platinum Ltd. (AMS) fired 12,000 on Oct. 5.
Lawlessness and violence have increased, Holland told analysts and reporters on the call. Strikers invaded and ransacked a police station in Westonaria over the weekend and late yesterday a driver of a company vehicle was stabbed and his vehicle set alight, the company said in a statement. Security personnel attending to the scene were fired on with live ammunition, he said.
Labor unions last week rejected an offer by Gold Fields, AngloGold and Harmony to raise pay by an average 3 percent, in addition to increases of 7.5 percent to 10 percent already awarded this year.
Gold Fields said the offer will still be valid if workers return by 2 p.m. local time on Oct. 18, according to Holland.
“If there were to be a return to normality by a specified date if and when such a date is set by us,” then AngloGold will also implement the offer, the company said today in an e-mailed response to a query. AngloGold has had all of its South African mines idled by strikes since at last Sept. 25, costing the company about 90,000 ounces of lost production so far.
Gold Fields has lost about 1.2 billion rand ($137 million) of revenue to date because of strikes, Holland said on the call. While some miners started returning to work at Beatrix mine today, it’s too early to say whether the strike there has ended, he said.
Gold traded at $1,745.73 an ounce as of 3:31 p.m. in London.
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