Growing unrest at Sibanye-Stillwater’s South African gold operation left nine people dead since workers downed tools in November, prompting the country’s mineral resources minister to call on police to protect the local community.
Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe requested the assistance of the Minister of Police to “restore and safeguard the safety and security of the community” in Carletonville in the west of Johannesburg, the mineral resources ministry said.
“The strike has become violent, impacting negatively on communities in the area, with nine deaths reported so far and an estimated 62 houses burnt down,” the mineral resources department said.
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) has been on strike at Sibanye’s bullion operations since mid-November and plans to extend the strike to its platinum mines as well as other mines where AMCU has members.
Sibanye-Stillwater said last month it could cut nearly 6,000 jobs at its gold mining operations.
Firms including AngloGold Ashanti, Harmony Gold, Anglo American Platinum received a strike notice are awaiting a labour court ruling which will decide if mineworkers’ can embark on an industry-wide strike.
South Africa is home to the world’s biggest platinum group metals deposits and accounts for just over 90% of global production.
The police minister is expected to visit the area in the next few days, the ministry said.