Mining sector faces unrest and other woes
THE proliferation of illegal mining incidents, community unrest are some of the problems that have increased risk in mining in South Africa the Chamber of Mines chief negotiator, Elize Strydom said yesterday.
Strydom was speaking at the National User Mining Forum on the platinum and gold sectors, an information sharing session that was hosted by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) in Magaliesburg yesterday.
“The Chamber is working closely with the police. We established a steering committee on security after the Marikana Massacre in in August 2012,and we have a person who liaises daily with the police at a senior level,” she said.
She also told labour, business and CCMA officials about the dangers of illegal miners, also known as zama-zamas. “To go underground is dangerous, there are a lot of booby traps and sometimes the illegal miners are armed with AK47s. As a result the police have said that we cannot expect us to go underground,” said Strydom.
A case in point was Sibanye Gold’s Cooke operations, south west of Johannesburg, which have been suspended for almost three weeks following an unprotected strike that was sparked by the company’s plan to root out illegal mining.
Strydom said community unrest had become common. “Communities are demanding jobs. They are making the lives of mines very difficult. Daily we have roadblocks that prevent trucks from delivering goods to mines,” she said.
Strydom said the industry had averted a strike in the platinum sector last year after signing a three year wage agreement with organised labour, which a positive development for the platinum industry which suffered a five month wage strike in 2014 and the Marikana Massacre in mid-August 2012.
The industry was also preparing with coal wage talks after agreeing to negotiate at a central level at the Chamber. “In the coal wage we will negotiate with the NUM, the biggest union in the sector, trade union Solidarity, United Association of South Africa, and for the first time, we will have the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa,”she said. The gold wage sector are set for next year . “We are meeting on a monthly basis. We are monitoring what happening in the sector to see what will be critical during the talks,”Strydom said.
“The gold sector wage talks next year will be problematic. This is because we have the Num and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) which are struggling for membership,”she said.