1440 miners lose jobs as mine closes

AURORA Empowerment Systems has reportedly shut down its Grootvlei gold mine on the West Rand, temporarily laying off about 60percent of the workforce.

AURORA Empowerment Systems has reportedly shut down its Grootvlei gold mine on the West Rand, temporarily laying off about 60percent of the workforce.

Electricity to the mine was reportedly cut off last week after the mine allegedly failed to pay its Eskom bills.

Cosatu said yesterday it was "appalled" that the mine had been shut down and 1440 workers had been temporarily laid off after not being paid their wages for months.

"The firm has also made no payments to the mine's security and insurance companies, and suppliers claim they are not being paid and are therefore not delivering equipment and supplies. Things came to a head when Eskom cut off power because they had not been paid, forcing mining to stop."

Cosatu said it supports the workers who have taken strike action in a bid to save their jobs. The federation was also "alarmed" at the allegation that thousands of workers' pension contributions had been deducted from wages but not paid over for the past five months.

As a result the Mineworkers' Pension Fund has reported the firm to the Financial Services Board and the National Prosecuting Authority.

Aurora Empowerment Systems is a black economic empowerment company - headed by President Jacob Zuma's nephew Khulubuse Zuma and former president Nelson Mandela's grandson Zondwa Mandela.

The firm bought the mine and several others when Pamodzi Gold was liquidated last year. But now it stands to lose the mines it acquired to an international bidder.

According to newspaper reports that cited Enver Motala, one of the six joint provisional liquidators of the Pamodzi mines, it could lose the mines if it fails to settle about R200million worth of outstanding bank guarantees within the next few weeks. - I-Net Bridge

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