Mine workers postpone strike at AngloGold's Mali mines

Workers hold off labour action to allow for negotiations

BAMAKO (REUTERS) — Mine workers at AngloGold Ashanti's Sadiola and Yatela gold mines in Mali have postponed the start of a planned strike for a few days to allow negotiations over redundancy payouts, a union official said on Monday.

Workers at the mines held a five-day strike in February to demand better layoff terms as the firm plans to cut costs following a slump in gold prices, and were due to hold another stoppage.

"The strike was expected to start last night but we decided to suspend it following a request from the governor of the region," said Mahamadou Konte, president of a commission representing the miners at the negotiation.

"The governor said he will intervene on our behalf with the company. But if there is no progress in a few days, we will still go on strike until our demands are met," Konte said by phone from Sadiola.

He added the workers had reduced their demands to 24 months of salary plus 300,000 CFA francs in medical care from 36 months plus 1 million CFA francs for medical care for every laid-off worker.

The company, however, was not budging from its offer to pay each employee seven days' worth of salary for every year worked, Konte said.

AngloGold was not immediately available to comment.

The South African-listed miner, which shares ownership of the mines with Canada's IamGold, held off expansion of the Sadiola mine and suspended excavation at Yatela last year, citing higher operational costs and lower gold prices.

Gold prices XAU= have fallen from a record $1,920.30 an ounce in 2011 to about $1,337.30, prompting mining firms to consider suspending or halting projects.

Gold accounts for nearly three-quarters of Mali's exports and one a third of state revenues. Yet an IMF report in December estimated sales this year would slump by a fifth from 2012 levels to 824 billion CFA francs ($1.7 billion).

The IMF projects the sector - which employs more than 10,000 Malians - will see a 2 percent output decline annually from 2015 as existing mines mature.

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