Sibanye halts work at SA gold mines as biggest unions begin strike

Sibanye’s shares slumped 4.8% by the close of trading in Johannesburg, paring this year’s gain to 37%.
Image: Bloomberg

Sibanye Stillwater Ltd. said it’s temporarily halting work at its three gold mines in South Africa from Wednesday evening as workers start a strike over wages.

The Johannesburg-based miner is implementing a so-called “lockout,” barring all workers, including those from Solidarity union that accepted its wage offer, from accessing the mine sites, said spokesman James Wellsted.

Mining activities at Driefontein and Kloof mines will be halted from Wednesday evening, except for essential services such as pumping water, he said. Sibanye had already temporarily stopped work at Beatrix gold mine until April because of safety issues.

Wellsted said the strike, called by Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union and National Union of Mineworkers, could threaten the outlook for the mines and force further restructuring if the action is prolonged.

“We will have to restructure as the older shafts reach the end of reserves as per our life of mine plans and clearly a long strike could impact those current plans,” he said. “We are obviously trying to avoid additional restructuring but it depends on how long the strike lasts and the impact.”

Sibanye’s shares slumped 4.8% by the close of trading in Johannesburg, paring this year’s gain to 37%. The strike officially starts at 6 p.m.

The length of the strike could depend on negotiations between the unions and Sibanye, NUM acting General Secretary William Mabapa said by phone. Mabapa confirmed that workers are now prohibited from reporting for duty due to the lockout. Sibanye employs about 31 000 workers at some of the world’s deepest and highest-cost gold mines.

© 2022 Bloomberg

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