Gold Fields has warned the National Union of Mineworkers that it might retrench about 10percent of its workforce because of the current global economic conditions.
If the layoffs go ahead, they would result in the loss of about 5200 jobs as the mining company employs 52000 workers nationally.
Retrenchments are on the increase in the mining sector despite interventions from the government and mining stakeholders.
In December last year, the "mining tripartite members" - the government, the Chamber of Mines and unions - met to discuss ways to minimise retrenchments.
Gold Fields' status review states: "There has been a deterioration in the cash flow position of the company from +R285million to -R104million.
"The company's debt position has increased from R5,276billion to R6,635billion over the period. And interest payments on loans total about R75million per month."
In light of this, the company said "the current SA operations are overstaffed and hence staffing levels need to be reduced by some 10percent to ensure the solvency of the company".
Spokesman for the NUM, Lesiba Seshoka, said: "How can production be improved by reducing workers?
"Companies seem to have a view that contract workers can be easily retrenched and that is not necessarily the case.
"These workers have families and have been in these jobs for many years."
l Anglo Platinum said on Monday it would shed 10000 jobs due to lower prices and lack of demand.