Gold Fields shares rose nearly 6% to around R45 in trading on the JSE this morning following news that the month-long strike at its South Deep mine had been called off.
Gold Fields has played down this development given the current climate of violence at the mine and has not issued a formal statement. Instead, the news was published buried in the “employee communications” section of the “The strike – latest updates and information” section of the “South Deep Restructuring” tab on its opening web page.
The announcement was in the form of a “brief” from Martin Preece – executive vice president of the South African region – and head of operations Benford Mokoatle in which they write, “ We have received notice from the NUM (National Union of Mineworkers) head office calling off the current strike.
“This follows the directive from the NUM regional office to the South Deep NUM branch to call off the strike as it was not serving the interests of its members. As we have already communicated, we have also received confirmation through the internal petition that we ran that the majority of South Deep employees wish to return to work.
“For safety and security purposes it is important that we return to work in a structured and orderly manner.”
According to JP Morgan Cazenove analyst Dominic O’Kane, “management earlier anticipated an on-going strike at South Deep. We view the early termination of the strike as a positive.”
The cost of the strike to date is given on the Gold Fields website as a R358m revenue loss for South Deep and a R112m loss of earnings for its workers.
Gold Fields spokesperson Sven Lunsche commented, “ we can confirm that we have been informed by the NUM head office that they have called off the strike.”
Lunsche added that Gold Fields management remained concerned about the levels of violence and intimidation linked to the former NUM South Deep branch and their supporters.
He commented, “We will gradually and carefully bring back employees to work over the next few days.”