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JOHANNESBURG - Gold Fields said on Thursday that it has been losing R6 million a day since the beginning of the strike by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) at its South Deep mine. The NUM strike has now entered its third week.

On November 2, the NUM embarked on a protected strike at South Deep mine in a bid to protest retrenchments of 1,100 more workers at the mine. Gold Fields, one of the world's largest gold mining firms, commenced a Section 189 process with the mine's two registered trade unions in August to retrench up to 1,560 employees at its South Deep mine.

The mine has not been able to produce since the commencement of the strike, resulting in a cash burn of around R6 million per day, as revenue losses were partially offset by lower operating costs, including the application of the no-work, no-pay rule. To date, striking employees have lost over R55 million in total in wages and earnings.

South Deep this week commenced paying out the retrenchment packages of 1,082 affected employees, including payments for the 178 employees who took voluntary severance packages.

During this past week, Gold Fields said it had engaged extensively with the national, regional and branch structures of the NUM to bring an end to the damaging strike. But despite progress having been made, the South Deep NUM branch decided to reject the strike settlement proposals and continue with the strike action.

"The impact of the decision to reject these proposed settlement terms on our employees is devastating. In addition to the fact that their jobs could now also be placed in potentially further jeopardy, they will continue to incur financial losses as the strike drags on," said Gold Fields chief executive, Nick Holland.

"There is nothing to gain in this strike – the company is not in a position to reverse the retrenchments, which are a critical component of the restructuring of the mine and essential to save the remaining 3,500 jobs. This strike therefore benefits nobody and only places South Deep at greater risk."

The strike has been marred by violence and intimidation, resulting in some employees who want to return to work being denied access, in contravention of a court interdict and the recognition agreement between South Deep and the NUM.

Gold Fields called on the NUM to end the strike and the associated violence, and return to work so that production can be restarted and losses curbed, and so that efforts to make South Deep a safe, low-grade, bulk mechanised and profitable gold mine could be made.

During the third quarter 2018 operational update released earlier this month, Gold Fields guided the market on no further gold production from South Deep for the remainder of the year.

- African News Agency (ANA)