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Sibanye Gold says 11 miners face arrest for union violence

Union rivalry has been spreading in the gold sector since the five-month long platinum strike.

South Africa’s Sibanye Gold said on Wednesday 11 mine workers at its Beatrix mine faced arrest after an investigation by the mine’s security services and the police into a conflict between rival unions at the operation.

Six workers have had charges of attempted murder brought against them and five will be charged with assault, the company said in a statement.

Sibanye closed its Beatrix mine for two days in February following a clash between rivals the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU).

Sibanye spokesman James Wellsted said members from both unions would be arrested. Police could not immediately be reached for comment.

Officials from both NUM and AMCU both said they had not been informed by the company or the police about the matter.

Sibanye estimated the work stoppage caused by the conflict had cost it R11.5 million ($993 000) or 25 kg of gold per day, which it hoped to recover in the course of the year.

The NUM has been hit by incursions by AMCU, which has poached tens of thousands of its members on the platinum belt in a bitter turf war that flared in 2012 and has led to the deaths of dozens of miners.

The rivalry has been spreading to the gold sector where NUM is still the majority with 57% unionised workers under its red banner.

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