De Beers ‘confident’ talks will avert strike at S.Africa’s Venetia mine

(Reuters) – Anglo American Plc’s De Beers is confident ongoing talks with South Africa’s National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) will avert a wage strike at Venetia, the country’s largest diamond mine, the company said on Friday.

On Tuesday, NUM, South Africa’s biggest mineworkers’ union, said it was planning a strike at Venetia, as De Beers could only offer a 6% pay increase against demands for a 9% hike.

The strike by NUM’s 1,500 workers would impact operations at Venetia’s new $2.3 billion underground operations, which started production in July. De Beers stopped its 30-year open pit operations at Venetia in December 2022.

In a statement, De Beers said it held a meeting with NUM representatives on Sept.6, facilitated by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), a statutory body that mediates labour disputes.

“We are confident that through continued engagement with the union and our employees we will reach a sustainable settlement with the NUM,” De Beers said.

The miner said the diamond industry is facing “challenging market conditions” impacting its business.

NUM was not immediately available for comment.

De Beers said it was pursuing a five-year wage deal with workers to provide operational certainty amid the transition to underground mining which targets annual production of 4 million carats, the equivalent of 12% of the group’s forecast output for 2023.

(Reporting by Nelson Banya; Editing by Sharon Singleton)