| JOHANNESBURG, July 31
JOHANNESBURG, July 31 Striking South African
coal and gold miners will meet the Chamber of Mines in separate
talks on Monday to end stoppages that have cost Africa's
largest economy tens of millions of dollars in lost output.
Coal output has been halted for a week, while some 100,000
gold miners downed tools on Thursday, bringing production to a
halt at AngloGold Ashanti (ANGJ.J), Gold Fields (GFIJ.J) and
Harmony Gold (HARJ.J) at a time when the bullion price is at
The annual "strike season" is in full swing, with unions
demanding 10 percent to 15 percent pay rises, well above
inflation of 5 percent. The strikes have so far hit chemical
manufacturers, diamond miners and the oil sector.
Negotiators have narrowed the gap on the gold front,
raising hopes of more progress on Monday, though neither side
is predicting a breakthrough. The Chamber of Mines negotiates
on behalf of the gold and coal producers.
"They have put something on the table and we are looking at
that and consulting with our members and will come back on
Monday to see if there can be some improvements in their
offer," Frans Baleni, General Secretary of the National Union
of Mineworkers (NUM), told Reuters.
For a Q+A on strikes, click [ID:nL6E7IM0M]
For a factbox on wage talks, click: [ID:nL6E7I80SV]
For a factbox on gold miners, click: [ID:nL6E7IR0LU]
For a graphic on strikes r.reuters.com/nef28r
The NUM, by far the largest and most militant of the three
unions involved in the talks, had sought a 14 percent pay rise
and the gold mine companies had offered rises of 7 to 9
The strikes highlight the difficult position of the ruling
African National Congress, which is keen to draw foreign
investment but is in a governing alliance with organized
Investors hammered South African mining shares for most of
last week on concern about the impact of lost production,
despite record high gold prices, and global fund trackers said
redemptions from African regional funds had hit a 23-week
Coal producers impacted by the strike include Anglo Thermal
Coal SA (AAL.L), Exxaro (EXXJ.J), Optimum Coal OPTJ.J and
Xstrata Coal XTA.L.
Markets on Monday will also be watching a new round of wage
talks between unions and Impala Platinum (IMPJ.J), the world's
second largest producer of the precious metal.
Impala and its larger rival Anglo American Platinumn
(AMSJ.J), which is also engaged in negotiations, together
account for around two-thirds of global platinum output, so
strikes against them will almost certainly support its price.
Gold's rise to record prices has been led mainly by its
safe haven status at a time of debt crises in America and
Europe, but analysts have said the South African strikes could
also help prop up its price if they are prolonged.
(Editing by Tim Pearce)