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Sibanye Gold has fired around 1500 workers taking part in a wildcat strike at its Cooke mine, it said on Thursday, prompting an angry reaction from the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). Workers at the mine downed tools over a week ago, angered by a company drive to root out illegal miners which has included the arrest of employees for collusion and taking food down to the illegal miners working underground. 
Illegal gold mining has plagued South Africa for decades, and Sibanye has vowed it will clear all illegal miners from its shafts by January 2018. The Cooke mine employs close to 4000 underground miners and Sibanye said the sacked workers could appeal their dismissals. NUM said earlier that nearly 2000 miners were fired. Sibanye said 793 NUM members had been dismissed. -