AngloGold Ashanti strike spreads

Thousands of workers at AngloGold Ashanti's SA operations have embarked on an unprotected strike.

Striking Anglo Platinum workers demonstrate at the company's Blesbok stadium. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - World number three bullion producer AngloGold Ashanti said on Wednesday an illegal strike had spread through its South African operations and the majority of its 35,000 workers in the country were now on strike.

"Workers at AngloGold Ashanti's South African operations have embarked on an unprotected strike, preventing the commencement of the night shift on 25 September," the company said in a statement.

It did not say what the current demands were.

South Africa accounted for about 32 percent of the group's global output of just over a million ounces of gold in the first half of 2012.

AngloGold's Mponeng operation, the world's deepest mine that is extracting ore at a depth of 4 km, is among those affected by the latest illegal strike to hit South Africa's mining sector.

Most of AngloGold's 35,000 employees have now joined the wildcat action that began last week at its Kopanang mine, spokesman Alan Fine said.

A wave of wildcat action is roiling South Africa's mines, including a six-week stoppage at platinum producer Lonmin in which 46 people were killed last month.

Gold Fields, the world's fourth largest bullion producer, said on Tuesday workers had reneged on a deal to end a two-week strike at its KDC West operation in South Africa and miners at its Beatrix mine had also downed tools.

Top platinum producer Anglo American Platinum also has operations shut because of the labour strife.

Fuelled in part by glaring income disparities, illegal strikes erupted in the platinum sector in the form of a bloody turf war between the NUM and the more militant Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).

The strikes have now spread to the gold sector but there is no evidence yet of Amcu involvement in the unrest.