The National Union of Mineworkers plans to strike at the struggling South Deep mine owned by Gold Fields, over the company’s plans to lay off 1,520 people working at the unprofitable operation. South Deep has sucked in R32bn to buy and develop but has yet to make money for shareholders, let alone pay back the capital, despite numerous plans and strategies since it took ownership of the mine in 2006.

In August Bank of America analyst Jason Fairclough described the continued downward revision of production targets and, more recently, the removal of production forecasts, as a “debacle” and wanted to know who, if anyone, would “fall on their sword”. In August, Gold Fields told the market it would lay off 1,100 staff and 460 contractors, adding to the jobs bloodbath in the South African mining industry. The mine at the time was running up losses of R100m a month. Gold Fields said the restructuring of the mine meant it was unlikely to reach the 480,000oz gold output it had forecast ...

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