Harmony Gold mine Kusasalethu operations in Carletonville. Workers who have been on a wildcat strike for more than two weeks have returned to work yesterday. Photo: Supplied
Durban - Harmony Gold rose more than 4 percent on Thursday after the mining company announced that its workers in Kusasalethu mine had ended a strike that has lasted for more than two weeks.

When the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu)-affiliated workers went on the illegal strike Harmony shares dropped 4.18 percent, but on Thursday regained the lost ground, rising to R37.29 in early trade before settling 2.09 percent higher at R36.66 at the close of trade on the JSE.

Harmony chief executive Peter Steenkamp said all workers went back to work after the unprotected strike ended yesterday.

“We are relieved that Kusasalethu is back to normal. Unprotected industrial action affects the mine’s viability, its employees and their families.

“It is prudent the Kusasalethu team now continues to produce safe, profitable ounces in line with its plan,” said Steenkamp.

Harmony shares rose in line with the price of gold which went up 0.56 percent to $1251 (R17 120.60) an ounce.

Amcu was not available for comment.

The workers went on strike on March 23 in response to disciplinary procedures against 40 employees following an illegal sit-in at Kusasalethu in January.

Read also: Strike ends at Harmony Gold's Kusasalethu mine

Harmony Gold, which produced just more than 124 000 ounces of gold in the 2016 financial year at its Kusasalethu mine, said it had lost between 10 and 15 days of production, but was unable to estimate the amount of ounces lost due to the strike.

The strike comes just weeks after workers at the mine staged an underground sit-in in January to demand the payment of a special bonus and the removal of the general manager.

Last year, Harmony Gold cut Kusasalethu’s lifespan to five years from about 24 years, following a harvesting strategy that targeted high-grade areas at the mine.

Kusasalethu, which employs about 4500 workers, has been a flash point for labour violence and strikes in recent years.

In the half-year results to end December, Kusasalethu saw its gold production rise 16 percent to 9871 ounces, mainly due to a 13 percent surge in tons milled, supported by a 3 percent increase in the recovered grade to 6.75g per ton.

Harmony’s overall gold production was up 8 percent to 17227kg, or 553862 ounces, for the period.