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Johannesburg - Harmony Gold met with unions to discuss the planned retrenchment of about 6000 workers at its Kusasalethu mine in Carletonville, the company said on Friday.

The company met representatives from the National Union of Mineworkers, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, Solidarity and the United Association of SA on Thursday.

“Discussions related to the reasons for the recent decision by Harmony to close its Kusasalethu mine, due to safety and security reasons that have caused the mine to no longer be a viable business,” the company said.

A parallel process was underway to find ways to achieve normal production levels at Kusasalethu.

The talks were brokered by a facilitator appointed by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.

Harmony Gold said the Kusasalethu mine had over seven million ounces of reserves, which equated to a lifespan of about 25 years.

“Kusasalethu will remain closed until an agreement has been reached, and all the conditions of re-opening have been agreed upon and committed to by all the unions and other stakeholders involved.”

On January 3, the gates at the mine hostels were closed and miners were told the mine was shut until further notice. Miners were denied access to the mine hostel and many slept outside the gates.

Harmony said the several illegal strikes at Kusasalethu had led to situations which were unsafe and had resulted in an “elevated level of risk to all the employees”.

“The December 2012 quarter results for Kusasalethu indicate a (preliminary) cash operating loss of R150 million and a (preliminary) negative cash flow of R252 million,” the company said.

It temporarily closed its operations end of December, but would continue to pay the basic salaries of workers.

According to the company's website about 5200 employees would be affected if the mine closed permanently.

The next facilitation session would happen on January 29. - Sapa