Bamako - AngloGold Ashanti, the world’s third-biggest producer of the metal, said its Yatela and Sadiola mines in Mali were operating normally even as about 2,000 workers employed by contractors started a strike.
“At this stage, production at both mines is proceeding as normal,” with “a minority of employees” taking part in the walkout that started on February 10, the Johannesburg-based company said in an e-mailed response to questions.
The employees want AngloGold to pay the medical costs and 24 months’ salary of those made redundant because of illnesses contracted while working, Alfousseyni Toure, general secretary of the mines unit of the Synacome labour federation, said by phone today.
It had initially demanded 42 months’ pay, he said.
The strike will end on February 14.
AngloGold has three operations in Mali, which vies with Tanzania to be Africa’s third-biggest producer of the metal.
The company, which is the world’s largest producer after Barrick Gold and Newmont Mining, suspended work at Yatela in September after the price of bullion dropped.
On an all-in basis, it cost AngloGold $1,988 to produce an ounce of gold from Sadiola in the third quarter, making it the company’s most expensive operation in the period.
That’s 54 percent more than the current bullion price.
Output attributable to AngloGold from Sadiola was 20,000 ounces in the three months ended September 30 and 5,000 ounces from Yatela.
AngloGold produced 1.04 million ounces in the period.
“AngloGold is proposing nothing more than what is in the law, plus, for voluntary redundancy, seven days of salary for each year of work,” Toure said.
AngloGold dismissed 360 workers from its subcontractor Africa Mining Service in September, while 127 were fired from LTA Mali SA in December, Toure said.
A further 600 jobs may be cut, he said.
Strikers were marching in the city of Kayes, 600 kilometers west of the country’s capital, Bamako, Toure said.
Yatela is 50 kilometers southwest of Kayes and 25 kilometers north of Sadiola, according to AngloGold’s website.
At Sadiola, AngloGold’s joint venture with Iamgold Corp., Mali’s government and the World Bank’s International Finance Corp., output was halted at the FE3 pit and may “affect employees” at the mine and workers contracted by LTA Mali, AngloGold said in the statement.
“We wish AngloGold will listen to social demands, Siaka Diakite, head of Mali’s national mineworkers union known as UNTM, said by phone from Bamako.
‘‘They have to fulfill the moral obligation.’’ - Bloomberg News