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South African union to expand strike to Sibanye Gold's platinum operations

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union will move forward with the plan to expand its gold strike to Sibanye Gold Ltd.'s Rustenburg platinum group metals mines in South Africa, reported Jan. 14.

The union, known as AMCU, filed a notice for the labor action scheduled for Jan. 22 as it looks to mount pressure on the miner. AMCU is the only union that did not sign a wage deal with Sibanye.

"The secondary strike at Sibanye's platinum mines in Rustenburg would affect about five mines. It is a secondary strike to the ongoing action by members at the gold mines," AMCU National Treasurer Jimmy Gama said.

The labor action, which has been ongoing at Sibanye's South African gold mines since Nov. 21, 2018, prompted the company to lower its 2018 gold production guidance.

The company slashed its guided output to 1.1 million ounces from the previous estimate of between 1.13 Moz and 1.16 Moz. Sibanye recently flagged a possible impact on its earnings due to the strike.

The company expects the planned action to cripple operations at Rustenburg, where the union has a large membership, company spokesman James Wellsted said.

"We have received the notice, and the strike is likely to have a significant impact if goes ahead as planned," Wellsted added.

Wellsted said the company is verifying AMCU membership in the gold sector. The strike can be declared illegal if the union does not hold a majority.