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Gold Fields faces strike at S.Africa South Deep mine

By Agnieszka Flak JOHANNESBURG, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Miners are expected to strike from late on Friday at Gold Fields' South Deep mine in South Africa over demands for black people to have a greater role in the management of the company. The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said some 6,000 workers would participate in the strike but Gold Fields said that only two-thirds of its 3,000 full-time staff at the mine were NUM members. The other 3,000 workers were contractors who would not be affected by the strike call, the company said. "We expect a total closure at South Deep. We will strike as long as it takes, even a month if need be," NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka told Reuters. Gold Fields had won an interim court order last month blocking a strike at the mine, but withdrew the interdict, assuming that an agreement for mediated talks had been reached. "We had thought we had reached an agreement for mediation and we were a bit surprised by the call for a strike," Gold Fields spokesman Sven Lunsche told Reuters. He said the company had put measures in place such as stockpiles to mitigate the impact from any strike action. "Given that we are not sure how long the strike will go on for, it's a bit difficult at the moment to say what the impact would be on production," he said. The South Deep mine is still mainly in development and produced around 70,000 ounces in the July-September quarter. The union has said it wants black people to have a greater role in the appointment of senior management and wanted Gold Fields to change its procurement rules to achieve greater participation by black suppliers. Gold Fields has said such issues are management decisions. Lunsche said the company was meeting with the union from 1530 GMT, but no resolution had been reached yet. The government said in September that whites still dominated South Africa's mining industry and changes to include more blacks in the sector are slow despite a decade of affirmative action. According to the government, only 8.9 percent of the country's mines were owned by blacks in 2009, well below a target of 15 percent. South Africa has set a target of 26 percent black ownership of its mines by 2014. Trade unions, the government and some industry officials have criticised the mine owners for moving slowly to achieve higher participation of blacks in the management of companies. South Africa is the world's largest producer of platinum and ferrochrome and also a major gold producer. (Editing by Anthony Barker) ((agnieszka.flak@reuters.com; +27 11 775 3154; Reuters Messaging: agnieszka.flak.reuters.com@reuters.net)) (For more Africa cover visit: http://af.reuters.com -- To comment on this story email: SouthAfrica.Newsroom@reuters.com) Keywords: GOLDFIELDS/ * Union says 6,000 to strike, Gold Fields says 2,000 * Gold Fields says puts measures in place to mitigate impact * Gold Fields says in talks with union, no resolution yet By Agnieszka Flak JOHANNESBURG, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Miners are expected to strike from late on Friday at Gold Fields' South Deep mine in South Africa over demands for black people to have a greater role in the management of the company. The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said some 6,000 workers would participate in the strike but Gold Fields said that only two-thirds of its 3,000 full-time staff at the mine were NUM members. The other 3,000 workers were contractors who would not be affected by the strike call, the company said. "We expect a total closure at South Deep. We will strike as long as it takes, even a month if need be," NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka told Reuters. Gold Fields had won an interim court order last month blocking a strike at the mine, but withdrew the interdict, assuming that an agreement for mediated talks had been reached. "We had thought we had reached an agreement for mediation and we were a bit surprised by the call for a strike," Gold Fields spokesman Sven Lunsche told Reuters. He said the company had put measures in place such as stockpiles to mitigate the impact from any strike action. "Given that we are not sure how long the strike will go on for, it's a bit difficult at the moment to say what the impact would be on production," he said. The South Deep mine is still mainly in development and produced around 70,000 ounces in the July-September quarter. The union has said it wants black people to have a greater role in the appointment of senior management and wanted Gold Fields to change its procurement rules to achieve greater participation by black suppliers. Gold Fields has said such issues are management decisions. Lunsche said the company was meeting with the union from 1530 GMT, but no resolution had been reached yet. The government said in September that whites still dominated South Africa's mining industry and changes to include more blacks in the sector are slow despite a decade of affirmative action. According to the government, only 8.9 percent of the country's mines were owned by blacks in 2009, well below a target of 15 percent. South Africa has set a target of 26 percent black ownership of its mines by 2014. Trade unions, the government and some industry officials have criticised the mine owners for moving slowly to achieve higher participation of blacks in the management of companies. South Africa is the world's largest producer of platinum and ferrochrome and also a major gold producer. (Editing by Anthony Barker) (For more Africa cover visit: http://af.reuters.com -- To comment on this story email: SouthAfrica.Newsroom@reuters.com) Keywords: GOLDFIELDS/ (agnieszka.flak@reuters.com; +27 11 775 3154; Reuters Messaging: agnieszka.flak.reuters.com@reuters.net) COPYRIGHT Copyright Thomson Reuters 2010. All rights reserved.

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