Three-quarters of SA’s gold mines are unprofitable or barely making money, says the Minerals Council SA as the sector enters wage talks that some participants hope will reflect the realities bedevilling the sector. SA’s 140-year-old gold industry, for decades the world’s leading source of the precious metal, is 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. From more than 392,000 people employed in 1994, the sector now has 111,800 and that decline is showing no signs of slowing, with the weak rand price of gold forcing the closure of Pan African Resources’s Evander gold mine and the shutdown of the Cooke mines owned by Sibanye-Stillwater. Against this backdrop, the gold sector including Sibanye, AngloGold Ashanti, Harmony and Village Main Reef, starts wage talks on Wednesday to set a fresh two-year wage deal. The opening demands from the two biggest unions, the National Union of M...

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