August 29, 2013 / 10:53 AM / 4 years ago

S. Africa gov't won't intervene in gold strike talks - mines minister

PERTH, Aug 29 (Reuters) - The South African government will not intervene in deadlocked wage talks between gold producers and unions even as some producers prepare for work stoppages of up to three months, the South African mines minister said on Thursday.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has said it will give producers on Friday 48-hours’ notice of its members’ intention to strike over the wage talks.

“The government will not intervene,” Susan Shabangu told Reuters on the sidelines of a mining industry conference in Perth, Australia.

“There’s nothing new in parties being miles apart. Our concern as government is that they need to settle and find common ground.”

Last week, NUM gave bullion producers, including AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields, Sibanye Gold and Harmony Gold, a seven-day ultimatum to meet its demand for pay rises of up to 60 percent or face strike action.

A complete shutdown of the gold sector could cost South Africa more than $35 million a day in lost output, according to calculations based on the spot price.

But Shabangu said negotiations have been going smoothly so far and that she was not concerned that tensions between workers and miners could lead to clashes such as those seen at the Marikana platinum mine, where 34 striking miners were shot dead by police.

“If you look at the whole part of this year, indeed, we have never seen anything closer to last year,” Shabangu said. (Reporting by Rebekah Kebede; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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