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South Africa’s Gold Fields union to strike over job cuts

Bullion producer Gold Fields said on Thursday its majority union would embark on a strike over planned job cuts at its sole South African asset, South Deep, threatening production and stoking further lay-offs.

Gold Fields plans to slash about 1,100 jobs, a near third of its workforce, at South Deep mine, which has been embroiled in operational issues as the company has tried to mechanise the operation in the face of challenging geology 3 kms (2 miles) below the surface.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which represents around 80 percent of the employees at the South Deep mine, has planned to down tools on Friday, the bullion miner said.

“We are very concerned about the further impact that industrial action will have on the mine – and on our employees, with potentially more job losses,” Chief Executive Officer Nick Holland said.

Gold Fields, which employs about 3,600 people, said in August it would restructure its problematic South Deep mine and would cut jobs in a cost-saving attempt.

The company will reduce the number of contractors by approximately 420 people at the mine, the miner added.

The firm had earlier said South Deep had lost 4 billion rand ($284 million) over the past five years.

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