Johannesburg - Gold producer DRDGold [JSE:DRD] could cut up
to 1 800 jobs when it stops mining two shafts at the embattled Blyvoor
operation, it said on Monday.
DRDGold "has resolved to suspend all further mining at
Blyvoor's low-grade number four and six shafts with immediate effect," the
company said in a statement.
This was at the recommendation of Blyvoor's board of
directors. DRDGold owns a 74% stake in the Blyvoor gold mine, south of
Carletonville, in Gauteng.
Blyvoor had given notice in terms of section 189(3) of the
Labour Relations Act to trade unions the National Union of Mineworkers and
Uasa. The unions and Blyvoor would begin a 60-day process to try and seek
consensus on job cuts.
"These measures follow a decline since April 2011 in
recovery grades to below cut-off at the two shafts, which are used mainly to
pump water from underground to surface and into Blyvoor's surface recovery
circuit," DRDGold said.
"Both shafts failed to respond to turnaround efforts
since the introduction of business rescue proceedings in the second half of
Blyvoor had undergone business rescue proceedings in terms
the new Companies Act since June after DRDGold said it would no longer finance
Blyvoor, which had needed about R80m to keep going until the end of 2011.
In November, DRDGold announced it had accepted an expression
of interest from mining company Village to buy its stake in Blyvoor for R150m.
DRDGold said it had told Village about the decision to stop
mining the two shafts and was "of the view that the proposed sale will not
be negatively affected by it".
DRDGold said the pumping of underground water from the two
shafts would not be affected by the cutbacks for the time being.
"Production from Blyvoor's surface recycling circuit
and at its principal number five production shaft, from which it plans to
access an additional 400 000 ounces it is seeking to acquire from the AngloGold
Ashanti [JSE:ANG] Savuka Mine, are also not affected by the decision," the