An illegal strike spread through AngloGold Ashanti's South African operations yesterday, and fellow miner Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) said it could start firing unlawful strikers today, as the country's mining companies try to rein in weeks of labour unrest.
A wave of wildcat action is sweeping South Africa's mines despite the end of an illegal six-week stoppage at platinum producer Lonmin in which 46 people were killed and the price of the white metal was pushed higher.
Most of AngloGold's 35,000 workers have joined the wildcat walkout that began last week at its Kopanang mine, its spokesman Alan Fine said. The company is the world's No 3 bullion producer and South Africa accounted for about 32 per cent of its global output of close to 2 million ounces of gold in the first half of 2012.
Illegal strikes have also gripped Gold Fields and the world's top platinum producer Amplats, part of Anglo American.
Amplats said attendance at its four Rustenburg mines remained below 20 per cent.
It said it would take action against those who remained on strike, including dismissals.
Violence flared when rival Impala Platinum fired strikers in January.