OPERATIONS at Kloof are still going strong despite strife between unions. Simphiwe Mbokazi African News Agency (ANA)
JOHANNESBURG - JSE-listed mining company Sibanye-Stillwater is still going strong with its gold operations at the Kloof, Beatrix and Driefontein mines open for business, despite a prolonged wage strike that has led to violence between rival trade unions, the Association of Mineworkers & Construction Union (Amcu) and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

Sibanye-Stillwater is a diversified mining firm and its earnings are currently 85percent from platinum group metals divisions, cushioning the impact of disruptions to its sunset gold portfolio.

James Wellsted, the head of investor relations at Sibanye-Stillwater, said yesterday that the company had developed plans to lessen the impact of the strike. “We have developed strike plans to offset the impact of a prolonged strike which have largely been implemented. We will update the market on the production impact in due course,” he said. The gold price has been relatively bullish since December, supporting Sibanye’s share price.

Sibanye’s share price closed 1.70percent lower at R10.40 on the JSE yesterday. For the year to date the share price is up 3.49percent.

Bullion, as a safe haven, surged in December as investors were spooked by the US-China trade war. On Tuesday, it was trading at $1284, $4 down from the previous day.

Wayne McCurrie, of FNB Wealth and Investments, said obviously a strike was never good news for any company. However, he said strikes were relatively commonplace in mining in South Africa and as such they are not treated as overly negative by the investment market.

However, he cautioned: “Clearly the industry wants management to do more to settle the strike, but this is a complex issue. Eventually every strike is settled as it is in the interest of both parties to do so. All parties have learned lessons from the devastating platinum strike a few years ago as nobody won,” McCurrie said.

Wellsted confirmed yesterday that there had been a number of houses and cars burnt since the strike started on November 21. NUM said yesterday that at least 15 houses and six cars belonging to its members had been burnt since Amcu went on strike in November.

“NUM members’ houses are being burnt down every day. It is also disturbing that NUM members are also being forced to join Amcu by thugs carrying spears,” NUM said in a statement.

Wellsted said the company had negotiated with all unions and Amcu was the only union that had not accepted their wage settlement.

“We have engaged extensively with all the unions since July 2018 and reached agreement with three of the unions. We have engaged with Amcu regarding ways to end the strike, but have been unable to reach agreement. The offer signed with the three other unions is final and will not be changed,” he said.

In October, Sibanye signed a three-year deal with NUM, Uasa and Solidarity regarding wages and conditions of service for the period July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2021.

The agreement allows for increases to the basic wage of category 4 to 8 surface and underground employees. An increase of R700 in the first two years and R825 in the third year was reached. Miners, artisans and officials will receive increases of 5.5percent in year one and 5.5percent or the consumer inflation rate, whichever is the greater, in years two and three. However, about 15000 Amcu members went on strike demanding R1000 annual wage increases for each of the three years.

Sibanye-Stillwater employs 32200 workers at its gold operations and Amcu represents about 43percent of employees in the bargaining unit.

BUSINESS REPORT