South Africa’s biggest gold companies plan to build and sell more houses to employees to ease the social pressures that led to the deaths of at least 44 people in 2012 and a record-long strike in platinum last year.
Addressing the country’s legacy migrant-labor and housing problems is “a priority,” AngloGold Ashanti, Sibanye Gold, Harmony Gold Mining and Gold Fields told reporters in Johannesburg Thursday.
Creating affordable accommodation and encouraging home ownership is seen by the mining companies as a way of improving their employees’ lot while avoiding above-inflation pay increases. The companies, due to begin biennial wage talks in May, are seeking to avoid a repeat of the five-month strike in the country’s platinum industry last year that crippled output and took 1 percentage point off economic growth.
“If we address the social issues that led to Marikana, then there should be less reason for pressure from employees and less reason to go on strike,” said James Wellsted, a spokesman for Sibanye, the country’s biggest gold producer.
The companies have spent 1.5 billion rand ($127 million) on upgrading single-sex hostels to family units and building houses since 2004, the said. They now plan to build affordable homes in towns near their operations to sell to employees. They will explore cheap financing options to help curb costs.
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