The strike over pay and union issues at Gold Fields' KDC West mine near Carletonville, west Gauteng, continued on Friday.

“The strike is still on,” said Gold Fields spokesman Sven Lunsche.

Thousands of stick and pipe-wielding miners walked in groups of about 50 onto the mine's property for another day of protests.

About 85 percent of the gold mine's 15,000 workers downed tools on Sunday, over a range of issues which include a salary increase to R12,500, equal pay for equal jobs across all mines, and the removal of the National Union of Mineworkers' (NUM) branch leadership.

The company has responded to demands and is in turn waiting for the workers' reply.

“NUM is still trying to hold mass meetings, and we are obviously trying to talk to our employees,” said Lunsche.

People trying to get the group to listen to NUM leaders at the mine during the week came in for a barrage of hostility, with workers claiming the union did not listen to them.

NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said they were still trying to establish who the person was who tried to address the workers from a mine security vehicle on Thursday.

He was sworn at and had sticks thrown at him.

Seshoka said there were over 900 shop stewards and 14 branch leaders at that mine, so it was difficult to tell immediately whether the person who spoke was an elected leader, or someone from the floor who chose to speak to the workers.

Meanwhile, NUM's national executive committee would hold an urgent meeting in Randburg on Friday, to discuss the sudden uprising in the north-western mining belt.

The call by workers at Gold Fields for its NUM branch leadership to resign would also be discussed.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, a former NUM secretary general, was expected to address the meeting.

Seshoka said that after the initial events at Gold Fields on Thursday, a NUM secretary for education managed to address workers.

Workers were angry, but she was allowed to speak, said Seshoka.

“There were some few who tried to disrupt and make noises, but they were called to order,” he said.

Business Day reported that Gold Fields CEO Nick Holland said miners across the world were not doing as well as thought, and a lot of introspection by the industry was needed to realise meaningful growth for the sector.

Despite an increase in the gold price since 2006, growth in the industry has been constrained by rising operating costs and declining grades.

“Operating costs over the past six years have increased by 12 percent each year, while ore grades have declined by about five percent per annum over the same period,” he said at a conference in Colorado.

The gold price was said to have gone up 21 percent a year over five years, but total all-in costs had gone up 21 percent over the same period, Holland said.

“The top eight companies, which make up 40 percent of the industry, have not grown over the last five or six years. In fact, they've declined,” he said. - Sapa