Four gold mining companies face the same demand in freshly started wage talks from the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) around provident funds that Anglo American Platinum has just seen off.

The 85%-held Anglo American subsidiary was hauled before the Labour Court by Amcu to prevent it from transferring a pension fund worth about R7bn from Amplats Group Provident Fund to Old Mutual, with the union demanding it be paid into the Igula Umbrella Provident Fund.

The case was dismissed on July 2, with Labour Court Judge Andre van Niekerk find-ing Amplats had watertight employment contracts allowing it to decide on the pension fund, and that it had given Igula a fair chance to compete against other funds to manage the pensions.

The spat over the fund arose from a clause in the wage agreement the world’s largest platinum miner reached with Amcu about setting up a task team to investigate investing workers’ funds in Igula. Amplats decided to place the funds with Old Mutual after various presentations from Amcu-sponsored and newly registered Igula fund in which the union has trustees. Amplats, which had just litigated against the Amplats Group Provident Fund around the misappropriation and mismanagement of R472m in assets, was wary of where the funds would be placed and it went through an intensive process to find a new fund manager.

After an Igula fund presentation in May, which was attended by PwC — which was comparing proposals from all fund managers — and RisCura to assess Igula’s investment track record, cost structures, and other factors, Amplats settled on Old Mutual.

"Igula was to the bottom end of the rankings compared with other funds. Old Mutual performed significantly more favourably, and also as the most cost-effective fund," Judge Van Niekerk said in his judgment.

Amcu did not respond to questions on Thursday.

Gold mining companies AngloGold Ashanti, Sibanye-Stillwater, Harmony Gold and Village Main Reef are all facing the same demand from Amcu in the opening gambit of the wage talks. The demand was made two years ago in wage talks, but the gold companies did not invest in Igula.