Pro­duc­tion at Cooke mine re­sumes to­day

The Star Early Edition - - COMPANIES -

SOUTH African pre­cious me­tals pro­ducer Sibanye Gold said on Fri­day it would re­sume pro­duc­tion to­day at its strike-hit Cooke mine, which has been in­cur­ring losses amid il­le­gal min­ing and pro­duc­tion in­ter­rup­tions.

Sibanye said R160 million in rev­enue had been lost at the Cooke op­er­a­tions af­ter work­ers downed tools more than three weeks ago over re­sent­ment at the com­pany’s crack­down against il­le­gal min­ers, which has in­cluded the ar­rest of em­ploy­ees for col­lu­sion and a ban on tak­ing food un­der­ground.

Il­le­gal gold min­ing has plagued South Africa for decades, with bul­lion pil­fered from both dis­used and op­er­at­ing mines. Sibanye has vowed to clear all il­le­gal min­ers from its shafts by Jan­uary 2018.

“The ad­di­tional losses in­curred, due to this strike, fur­ther im­pact on the eco­nomic vi­a­bil­ity of these op­er­a­tions,” said Wayne Robinson, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Sibanye’s gold divi­sion.

The mine, west of Jo­han­nes­burg, was closed as the com­pany went through an ap­peals process for work­ers fired for tak­ing part in a wild­cat strike.

The Cooke op­er­a­tions, which have been un­der strate­gic re­view, were im­pacted by the loss of about 300 kilo­grams of planned gold pro­duc­tion, the com­pany said.

“These op­er­a­tions have failed to meet pro­duc­tion tar­gets for some time, with il­le­gal min­ing and em­ployee col­lu­sion likely to have played a mean­ing­ful role in this un­der per­for­mance,” said Robinson.

Sibanye has laid out R200 million to stop il­le­gal min­ing, which is es­ti­mated to cost the govern­ment and in­dus­try more than R20 bil­lion a year in lost sales, taxes and roy­al­ties.

“The ar­rest of 472 il­le­gal min­ers at the Cooke op­er­a­tions, which are not dor­mant, but ac­tive, op­er­at­ing mines, in­di­cates the ex­tent of the il­le­gal min­ing ac­tiv­i­ties and the risks that this grow­ing crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity poses to our op­er­a­tions, em­ploy­ees and com­mu­ni­ties,” said Robinson.

PHOTO: ITUMELENG ENGLISH

Min­ers walk along level 33 at Sibanye Gold’s Ya Rona shaft near Car­letonville.

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