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South African Gold Industry in decline as wage talks begin

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CAPE TOWN (Scrap Register): Wage talks in the South African gold-mining sector are occurring against a backdrop in which the country’s industry is already a fraction of what it once was, said commodities brokerage SP Angel.

Analysts cited data from the Minerals Council SA saying three-quarters of South Africa’s gold mines are unprofitable or barely making money as the sector enters wage talks.

South Africa was once the world’s top gold producer but is now a “shadow of itself, barely clinging onto eighth place ahead of Mexico. Its mines are old, deep, with falling grades and productivity, and rising costs,” SP Angel added.

Employment has fallen from more than 392,000 people in 1994 to 111,800. A number of companies enter wage talks on Wednesday, seeking a two-year wage deal.

The opening demands from the two biggest unions, the National Union of Mineworkers, with 51% representation of the 79,517 employees at the four companies, and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, with 34%, did not reflect an awareness of the difficulties, SP Angel noted.

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