Workers strike at Kinross Mauritania gold mine

Wed Jun 6, 2012 3:44pm EDT
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By Cameron French

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian miner Kinross Gold said on Wednesday that workers at its Tasiast gold mine in Mauritania in West Africa have initiated an unlawful work stoppage, halting mining and processing activity at the operation.

Kinross spokesman Steve Mitchell said mining and processing workers failed to report to work on Monday. About 600 workers are involved, although not all are on the same shift, he said. Most are unionized.

"They have raised a number of issues, which are the subject of current discussions with employee representatives and hope to get the situation resolved and get people back to work as soon as possible," he said. Kinross is Canada's third-largest gold producer by output.

Workers struck briefly at Tasiast in May 2011 over pay and working conditions, but were back to work in less than a day.

Kinross was seen as vaulting into the gold industry's big leagues when it acquired the mine as part of its $7.1 billion takeover of Red Back Mining in 2010.

But the company said earlier this year it would take a $2.9 billion writedown on the acquisition and delay a planned expansion of Tasiast, due in part to soaring project costs.

The mine holds proven and probable reserve of about 7.5 million ounces and has another 13 million ounces of resources.

It produced 200,000 gold equivalent ounces in 2011, a figure the company has said should rise more than seven-fold once the multi-year expansion is completed, sometime after 2014.   Continued...