Most South African gold mines are unprofitable but owners, unions, government don't care why


Minerals Council Says 75% of South Africa's Mines Are Unprofitable

By Allan Seccombe
Business Day, Johannesburg, South Africa
Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Three-quarters of South Africa's gold mines are unprofitable or barely making money, says the Minerals Council SA as the sector enters wage talks that some participants hope will reflect the realities bedevilling the sector.

South Africa's 140-year-old gold industry, for decades the world's leading source of the precious metal, is a shadow of itself, barely clinging onto eighth place ahead of Mexico. Its mines are old, deep, with falling grades and productivity, and rising costs.

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From more than 392,000 people employed in 1994, the sector now has 111,800 and that decline is showing no signs of slowing, with the weak rand price of gold forcing the closure of Pan African Resources's Evander gold mine and the shutdown of the Cooke mines owned by Sibanye-Stillwater.

Against this backdrop, the gold sector including Sibanye, AngloGold Ashanti, Harmony, and Village Main Reef, starts wage talks today to set a fresh two-year wage deal.

The opening demands from the two biggest unions, the National Union of Mineworkers, with 51 percent representation of the 79,517 employees at the four companies, and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, with 34 percent, did not reflect an awareness of the difficulties. ...

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