JOHANNESBURG – AngloGold Ashanti said Friday it suspended operations at two mines in South Africa after hundreds of workers staged a sit-in over pay.
Workers at the TauTona and Mponeng mines northwest of Johannesburg have since held talks with management and work is expected to resume Sunday night, the company said. Two days of work were lost at the Mponeng mine because of damage underground, and one day at TauTona because of the sit-in, it said.
AngloGold Ashanti is the world's third largest gold bullion producer and said that the people staging the sit-ins represent between 2 and 5 percent of the workforces at each mine.
The company's South African operations accounted for approximately 32 percent of total group production during the first half of the year, it said. Prior to this dismissal process, approximately 35,000 people were employed across AngloGold Ashanti's South African operations.
Tens of thousands of miners have staged wildcat strikes in South Africa over the past three months, affecting gold and platinum output. Violent strikes at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine saw more than 40 killed, and the company says the nearly six weeks of strikes affected the company's production and led to its decision to restructure. Lonmin reached a deal with its miners that awarded them pay increases of up to 22 percent.
The Lonmin strikes and negotiations spread to other mines in the past few months.
Anglo American Platinum miners in Rustenburg have been on strike for seven weeks, and 12,000 workers who were fired and then reinstated still have not returned to work. It said its offer for the miners to return to work is still open.
"The company currently does not have sufficient staff for safe operations in the affected areas and continues to carry out essential services only," it said in a statement.
Anglo American Platinum, or Amplats, the world's top platinum producer, said it is losing an average of 3,694 ounces of platinum per day and to date 141,640 ounces of platinum have been lost.
"We have been patiently appealing to our workers to get back to work so that the situation in Rustenburg and the north of Pilanesburg can go back to normal," said the CEO Chris Griffith. "We are disappointed that the offer, which was made to employees to alleviate some of the hardship as a result of the no-work no-pay principle, has not yet been accepted."