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RETIREMENT OF DEPUTY CHAIRMAN - Mineral Deposits Limited©2006
Harmony to close 3 shafts
Harmony Gold Mining said it would close three money-losing shafts at its Virgina operation in the Free State, in a move that will affect nearly a tenth of its 41 000 workers, namely its Harmony 2, Merriespruit 1 and Merriespruit 3. But the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) vowed to resist the retrenchments, saying it would explore all avenues to prevent job losses.
The closure of the shafts, which had been in operation for almost 60 years, came after a "thorough, informed decision that they have reached the end of their lives", harmony CEO Graham Briggs said. "We have indicated for some time that marginal, loss-making operations would have to close for the company's greater good." Briggs said last year that Harmony would be focusing on improving the "quality mix" of its assets as it battles rising costs.
Spokeswoman Marian van der Walt seperately said the shafts had been losing money "for the past year". "We went through quite an extensive process to see whether there were any areas we could still mine or any new technology we could use. It was about six months before we reached the decision." There would be retrenchments among the 3 700 workers affected, she confirmed. "But there will be alternatives for others - we've got some growth assets such as (the Tshepong mine in the Free State). We could move some people to other shafts, and there will be opportunities to retrain workers. And there's also natural attrition," Van der Walt said.

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