JOHANNESBURG, Gauteng (AFP) – A South African gold miners' strike has ended after workers at Harmony Gold accepted a final wage offer, the country's second-largest producer of the precious metal said on Sunday.
Tens of thousands of South African gold miners went on strike over pay on Tuesday night, but most had already returned to work after agreeing wage deals of between 7.5 and 8.0 percent.
Workers at Harmony's mines in the central Free State and Northern Cape provinces had initially held out for a better deal, but the company said they had now accepted.
"Members of the NUM (National Union of Mineworkers) have accepted the same offer made by other producers in the industry, and have returned to work," Harmony Gold said in a statement.
Gold remains a key industry in Africa's largest economy, employing around 140,000 people and accounting for 10 percent of export earnings and three percent of Gross Domestic Product.
But falling gold prices, a declining grade of ore and increased costs such as electricity and wages, have drained revenues.
Harmony chief executive Graham Briggs said the present wage agreement was "in the interests of long term industrial relations stability", yet warned such hikes could not be repeated.
"Continued industrial action will make this increase unaffordable, and place the future viability of some of our operations under threat. This, in turn, could have an impact on jobs," he said.
Negotiators resolved the wage dispute in a fairly short time after the strikes started, averting a repeat of the protracted and violent stoppages that shook the country a year ago.