File image: Reuters

Johannesburg - Five mine workers were injured in a clash with security guards at Harmony Gold's Kusasalethu mine in Carletonville, the company said on Thursday.

“There was indeed violent behaviour and damage to mine structure this morning,” spokeswoman Henrika Basterfield said.

She said 578 employees, including contractors, were suspended on Thursday for taking part in an unprotected strike last week.

On Thursday, workers clashed with security guards. Rubber bullets were fired and five people were injured.

The mine would close a day earlier for the festive season.

“At the moment we are evacuating the shaft. We are closing.”

On Thursday, Harmony's chief operating officer Tom Smith said violence would not be tolerated at the mine.

“To ensure the safety of our employees it has become imperative to close the shaft until the labour issues have been resolved.”

Late last month two workers were killed and a third injured during violence believed to be the result of rivalry between the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) and the National Union of Mineworkers.

Management, the recognised unions, and Amcu, had been in talks about ending conflict at the mine since workers ended an unprotected strike on October 25. - Sapa