Seven Falls Resources denied media reports on Tuesday that its mining partner Tawana Resources planned to fire local workers because of delays in the issuing of a mining permit for the company.

"This is such a far-fetched suggestion," the JSE-listed mining operator's chairman Thabo Makweya said in a statement.

"Seven Falls Resources refutes this offensive assertion and rejects the implications of this unfortunate insinuation."

Makweya was responding to a media report on Tuesday that the Australian diamond explorer, Tawana Resources, may fire its South African workers at the end of this month because of delay in issuing a mining permit to the company.

It said Tawana may employ the workers again once the mining right was approved.

Minerals and Energy Minister Buyelwa Sonjica described, in the report, Tawana's intentions to fire the workers as "pure blackmail and totally unacceptable".

Makweya said that Seven Falls Resources had a good relationship with the department.

"So we have no intentions of blackmailing anyone, including our own government," he said.

Tawana Resources managing director Wolfgang Marx said the company's concerns had been misinterpreted and "blown out of proportion".

"We are miners who abide by the laws and regulations of the industry. Indeed we are concerned about the implications of the insinuations, but we are confident of the DME's (Department of Minerals and Energy's) good intentions," Marx said.

Meanwhile, the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) said Tawana

Resources intentions were "totally unacceptable".

"We cannot have our jobs and the future of our country's key industries held to ransom by the demands of greedy private companies who just want to exploit our minerals resources and cheap labour and then take profits out of the country," said Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven.

"Key industries like mining must be run by the people, for the people."

Makweya said a meeting will be held with the department on Wednesday to discuss Tawana's permit. - Sapa