FILE PHOTO: A worker pours gold at the AngloGold Ashanti mine at Obuasi, Ghana

JOHANNESBURG - The Minerals Council South Africa, formerly the Chamber of Mines, said on Wednesday that the mining industry continued to face major challenges despite the gold sector remaining a significant contributor to the South African economy and its people.

This as wage negotiations between four of the biggest gold producers and workers unions were continuing on Wednesday at a centralized collective bargaining forum. The companies; AngloGold Ashanti, Harmony Gold, Sibanye-Stillwater and Village Main Reef; directly employ around 80,000 people collectively.

Workers are demanding a R9,500 salary for above the surface employees and R10,500 for entry level underground staff over and above a R5,000 housing allowance. 

Motsamai Motlhamme, Minerals Council chief negotiator, said that a stagnant gold price, continually rising input costs, operational challenges, and policy and regulatory uncertainty, were putting a strain on the gold mining industry. 

Motlhamme said despite this, the industry continued to make an important contribution to the lives of employees and communities through the payment of taxes and royalties, by providing jobs and benefits, education and training, and by continued investment in social projects and infrastructure.

Recent statistics show that the gold sector contributed R43 billion towards GDP in 2016; and in 2017 produced 138 tonnes of gold; employed around 112,000 people; contributed R6.5 billion in taxes; paid royalties of R1 billion; and paid employee wages and benefits of around R30 billion.

- African News Agency (ANA)