October 8, 2009 / 4:22 PM / in 8 years

UPDATE 1-End in sight to strike at SAfrica's DRDGOLD mines

* Workers at Crown mine return to work on Thursday

* Union says most workers at Blyvoor in favour of new offer

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JOHANNESBURG, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Some 500 mineworkers resumed work on Thursday at a mine owned by South African gold producer DRDGOLD (DRDJ.J) while their colleagues at another of the group’s mines are also preparing to end a four-week long strike.

About 4,400 workers’ represented by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) went on strike on Sept. 15 at DRDGOLD’s Blyvoor and Crown mines. The company’s spokesman James Duncan said the striking workers at Crown had returned to work.

“We settled at 8 percent (wage increase) at Crown, and all the 500 striking workers are back,” Duncan said.

He said the plant had continued operating normally based on material supplied by contractors and workers represented by other unions that were not on strike.

Duncan said some 3,900 workers were still on strike at Blyvoor, but the union said an end to the dispute was in sight.

NUM said most of the Blyvoor workers had accepted an improved wage offer of an 8 percent increase and might soon return to work.

    “The Blyvoor operation which was also offered an 8 percent late last night has this afternoon overwhelmingly accepted the offer and would soon finalise plans to return to work,” NUM said in a statement.

    The workers had initially demanded a 10 percent wage raise.

    DRDGOLD has said it was losing around 320 ounces of gold a day, mainly due to lost production at Blyvoor’s labour-intensive underground mine.

    DRDGOLD’s output at Blyvoor had already been affected by seismic event at its underground operations in late May.

    Duncan said the mine would shed jobs at the mine to cut costs due to the reduced output and the strike could result in even more job losses than planned. (Reporting by James Macharia and Agnieszka Flak; editing by James Jukwey)

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