Jobs, Mines at Risk From Higher Wage Demands, Harmony Gold Says

Harmony Gold Mining Co. said thousands of jobs could be lost and mines closed if South African producers give in to higher wage demands from workers.

“Getting more simply means that something has to give,” Chief Executive Officer Graham Briggs said in an interview. “In our case what’s going to happen? There are going to be job losses.”

Harmony had the highest costs of the world’s 18 biggest gold producers in the first quarter and made a net loss of 4.5 billion rand ($348 million) in the year to June 30. With AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. and Sibanye Gold Ltd., it’s negotiating wages with workers. Unions this month rejected what the companies said was their final offer.

Job losses would be “massive” if Harmony agreed to lift wages by more than the 11 percent the company offered the lowest-paid workers last month, Briggs said. Harmony employs about 30,000 people.

“Unless we get an agreement and unless we have the rationale of the economic compact in front of us and understand the sensitivities, we’re going to end up closing operations,” he said.

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