GOLD production fell by at least 40,000oz during the third quarter, largely as a result of strike action at AngloGold Ashanti’s operations in South Africa, where the miner began laying off workers at one of its holdings.
AngloGold’s output for the quarter ended September 30 was 1.03 million ounces of gold, well below its guidance of between 1.07moz and 1.10moz.
Unit total cash costs were previously forecast at between US$835 and US$865 per ounce, but the company said lower production would impact these figures.
Meanwhile, AngloGold began letting go of workers at its West Wits operations at the same time as employees at three other mines at Vaal River ended their industrial actions.
About 12,000 workers at the Mponeng, TauTona and Savuka mines were laid off after they failed to respond to a deadline.
The company said that while it would continue a dialogue with the workers, it had initiated layoff proceedings.
Vaal River workers returned to the job on October 23 and 24, after
AngloGold issued an ultimatum. The company immediately began ramping up production levels at Kopanang, Great Noligwa and Moab Khotsong, and the returning workers were to receive a new wage offer made through a collective bargaining framework.
AngloGold also blamed the quarter’s disappointing production figures on lower than expected output at the Obuasi mine in Ghana, and has terminated its agreement with the underground contractor at the site as part of a larger plan to streamline long-term operations.
AngloGold’s South African operations accounted for about 32 per cent of total group production during the first half of the year.
Under normal conditions, the Vaal River mines account for about 40 per cent of the company’s gold production and all of its uranium output.
If AngloGold completes the dismissal process, the number of miners recently fired in South Africa will pass 35,000.
Other companies that have also fired strikers in an effort to end crippling strikes in the country include Anglo American Platinum (12,000) and Gold Fields (8500).