Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

HARMONY Gold Mining confirmed late on Friday afternoon that after discussions between the relevant parties the 1,700 mineworkers who participated in an underground sit-in at the Kusasalethu mine had returned to surface.

The mine will be closed for the festive season and labour related discussions will resume in January 2013.

Tom Smith, chief operating officer of Harmony, commented: "We are pleased that employees safely returned to surface and will be able to return home to their families for the festive season. We would also like to thank the Department of Mineral Resources for their involvement in resolving the matter."

The workers who staged the sit-in were demanding the reinstatement of 578 colleagues suspended earlier this week.

Kusasalethu is one of the mines where the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) has recruited membership, and it was among those affected by the wildcat strikes that swept through the platinum and gold mines between August and October, costing companies billions of rand in lost revenue.

The 578 workers, including contractors, engaged in an illegal sit-in last Saturday and were suspended on Wednesday, said Henrika Basterfield, investor relations manager at Harmony. The reasons for the sit-in were unknown, she said.

With Allan Seccombe