Miners launch strike at Resolute gold mine in Mali

BAMAKO, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Workers at Resolute Mining’s Syama gold mine in Mali launched a five-day strike on Monday in a dispute over policy on COVID-19, although some production has continued, the head of Syama’s union told Reuters.

The action follows a proposed strike at the mine in September that led to a 15,000-ounce production delay before the Australian miner’s Malian subsidiary reached an agreement with the National Union of Malian Workers (UNTM).

Nearly 95% of Syama’s workers are again on strike, but “operations have not fully halted with some workers operating machines for minimum production,” Karim Fomba, the general secretary of the union at the mine, said.

Resolute did not immediately respond to questions emailed outside Australian office hours.

An official at the mine confirmed industrial action was taking place and that not all workers were participating. “Production has not stopped,” he said on condition of anonymity.

The dispute centres on the mine’s decision to put some workers on paid furlough and others on unpaid leave during the COVID-19 pandemic, Fomba said by phone.

Resolute, which owns 80% of Syama to the Malian government’s 20% stake, had forecast the mine’s 2020 gold output reaching 167,859 ounces before the latest production slowdown.

UNTM, which says it represents 80% of unionised mine workers in the country, launched a broader 72-hour strike in November to push for better pay and bonuses. (Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo Additional reporting by Helen Reid in Johannesburg Writing by Alessandra Prentice; editing by Barbara Lewis)