The strike called by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) at Sibanye-Stillwater’s gold mines is puzzling on a number of levels and faces doing real harm if it continues much longer. The union would have been made keenly aware of the unprofitable nature of the gold division from the start of 2018, a period also dominated by the death of 21 workers during various underground incidents. As part of the wage talks with three other unions over a period of months, Sibanye’s negotiators would present the company’s financial statements, explaining why it would not agree to the unions’ demand and to justify its counteroffers. There would be little to no mystery about the financial state of the gold mines even allowing for a degree of scepticism on the actual numbers presented by the company. Audited interim numbers and the third-quarter production data give a legally binding view of the losses at the three operational gold mines near Carletonville in Gauteng and Beatri...

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