Metal News

SOUTH AFRICAN MINERS WARN OF DECLINE

South Africa’s leading gold mining companies have called on their government to change the country’s labor laws and create tax breaks to avoid closing down much of the country’s gold mine production.

In its proposal to the government, the Chamber of Mines, which represents all of South Africa’s top mining houses, says the country’s mining industry “is at a watershed.”

The Chamber says the financial viability of many gold mines depends upon developing fresh “and in some cases radical approaches to all aspects of work within the industry.” If far-reaching changes in labor laws and practices were achieved, current production and employment levels would be maintained in the longer term. Productivity and, therefore, wages and other conditions of work could be improved, says the Chamber.

“If changes are not made, the gold industry will likely continue its present decline, despite recent development projects,” says the Chamber. It notes that labor disruptions, more paid public holidays and rising costs have cut deeply into profits.

South Africa’s gold industry also faces competition from low cost gold producers in less developed countries where labor laws and costs are less burdensome and where gold deposits are more easily accessible.

South Africa’s gold output fell 35 metric tons to 584 last year, the lowest level since 1958