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Johannesburg - Anglogold Ashanti will not meet its illegally striking workers' demands outside the formal bargaining structure as Lonmin did, the company said on Monday.

CEO Mark Cutifini said giving into the striking workers' demands would only lead to job losses in the future.

“I have no doubt that the implications for those companies that have had to agree to increase wage demands will be job losses. Absolutely,... no doubt,” he told reporters at the company's head office in Johannesburg.

“We understand what a Lonmin decision would mean for us as a business... It would mean job losses.”

In August, a six-week-long illegal strike by Lonmin mine workers in Marikana, Rustenburg, ended with workers and the mine signing an agreement in favour of the workers' demands.

According to the agreement, the lowest underground worker would earn R9 611 from R8 164, a winch operator R9 883 from R8 931, a rock drill operator R11 078 from R9 063 and a production team leader R13 022 from R11 818.

A once-off R2 000 bonus was given to the workers as soon as they returned to work after the “no work, no pay” strike.

The mineworkers had refused to return to work until management agreed to a R12 500 wage demand.

Cutifani said the closure of a developmental project at Lonmin's Marikana mine was a sure sign of things to come.

“We've already seen one closure of a development project at Lonmin with the K4 shaft,” he said.

“When you start closing down development projects, what does that say about your future?”

Cutifani said Anglogold Ashanti would not use the same strategy as Lonmin, even though 24 000 of its mine workers were on an unprotected strike.

Workers at the operations at its West Wits and Vaal River regions joined those at Kopanong, who embarked on an unprotected strike on September 20.

Currently operations at all gold producing mines had stopped.

Since the strike started, no formal demands had been made to management, but on Monday Cutifani said it had learnt, through different sources from “unrecognised” organisations, that the striking workers were demanding more money.

“If the current unprotected strike continues, it compounds the potential likelihood of a premature downsizing of AngloGold Ashanti's South African operations.”

He said where downsizing and closures occurred, the mine was unlikely to re-open the shafts because of the associated costs.

Cutifani urged striking workers to return to work so a sustainable solution for all could be reached.

“We must be very clear in our message to all striking employees that if people return to work and engage in constructive discussions, we will find a pathway to a sustainable and shared future,” he said.

Cutifini said the mine could not risk being seen as rewarding illegal, violent, intimidating actions by striking workers.

He said to do so, would cause an unsustainable future for the mine.

Cutifini refused to be drawn on how the mine would fire thousands of its employees or on how long the striking workers had before the mine decided to start dismissing workers.

He said that in spite of the ongoing strike, Anglogold Ashanti as a company was doing extremely well.

“From a financial point of view, we are in very good shape. We have the rest of the business operation...”

He said there was not much time left to remedy the situation within the operations sector of the mining industry.

“We have a small period of opportunity to turn this around and realise that many people will lose jobs, many families will lose breadwinners and have no other option of job opportunities in the country.... There will be many tears.” he said. - Sapa