Harmony Gold announced that its Kusasalethu mine, closed since 20 December last year, will reopen in a phased process, following the successful conclusion of an agreement with the various trade unions representing the majority of all employees at the mine.

The company temporarily closed the mine in the interest of safety following weeks of unprotected strike action, a refusal to adhere to work policies and procedures, and several incidents of violence by some employees and contractors.

A consultation process in terms of Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act (No 66 of 1995) began on 7 January 2013 between Harmony and Kusasalethu employees, who were represented by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Solidarity and the United Association of South Africa (UASA).

Among the key contributing components to the agreement was a pre-condition for reopening the mine that urged the acceptance by all employees of various conditions, all broadly relating to employees committing to full compliance with policies and procedures, and safe and orderly conduct. These conditions were agreed to by the unions. In terms of the agreement, it was also agreed that each employee would sign a code of conduct to show their individual commitment to ensuring that Kusasalethu is mined in a safe and secure way with full respect for the rule of law.

The company says that employees will return over a period of time in phases; they will be called back individually during February 2013 to ensure a safe and smooth process. Individual signings of the code of conduct, training on the guarantees and undertakings agreed to in the agreement, as well as health and safety inductions are also scheduled to commence soon.

We have received satisfactory assurances from all employee organisations AMCU, NUM, Solidarity and UASA that their members have committed to compliance with the conditions. On this basis, management feels comfortable to proceed with reopening the mine, says CEO, Graham Briggs.

Existing and established rights of engagement from both a labour and employer perspective have been reinforced and we are pleased that we can continue mining at Kusasalethu. Safety is our first priority and we refuse to compromise on this value, he continues.

It is planned that the mine will operate as normal towards the end of April 2013. The mine is expected to return to full production towards the end of June 2013.

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