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S. Africa Union Says Gold Strike Decision Possible Next Week

South Africa’s Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union said it may reach a decision next week on whether to strike at gold companies over wages.

There’s been “no positive engagement” with stakeholders in the gold industry, Jimmy Gama, AMCU treasurer, said in a phone interview. “We have given some reports to the shop steward committee” about the lack of progress, he said.

Gold companies last month reached a wage pact with all labor groups except the AMCU, which represents 19 percent of miners. Unions may strike legally at mines where they are recognized as the majority labor group, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said last month.

AMCU represents 65 percent of workers at Sibanye Gold Ltd.’s Driefontein, as well as 73 percent of workers at Harmony Gold Mining Co.’s Kusasalethu and the majority at AngloGold Ashanti Ltd.’s Mponeng.

“The gold industry’s position remains unchanged: There is a valid agreement in place,” Charmane Russell, a spokeswoman for gold producers who works at Russell & Associates, said in an e-mailed response to questions. “Any strike action would be considered to be unprocedural and the industry would seek a court interdict to confirm that the agreement is and remains legally binding.”

The AMCU is also holding wage negotiations with companies mining platinum. Its members, the largest labor group at Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd., voted on Oct. 28 to strike over wages. The union has written to Impala and if there’s no change “we will have to decide if we’ll serve our notice,” Gama said.

Platinum Rises

The spot price for platinum rose to a six-week high, advancing 1.2 percent to $1,478.70 by 5:39 p.m. in Johannesburg, the highest intraday level since Sept. 19.

Impala accounts for about 25 percent of global platinum supply. The AMCU is demanding basic monthly wages for underground workers of 12,500 rand ($1,267) from the three largest South African platinum producers, where it has usurped the National Union of Mineworkers as the dominant labor representative.

“It might happen that a strike could happen jointly” with other platinum companies, Gama said. The union is also in wage negotiations with Anglo American Platinum Ltd. and Lonmin Plc.

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