South Africa: Death and Labour Disputes Tarnish Blyvooruitzicht Gold Mine's Shine

opinion

The killing of a union leader and director of Blyvooruitzicht mine might seem like another day in the life of SA's blood-drenched labour disputes, but in many ways it stands apart, not least as an example of SA's peculiar brand of toxic unionism and the growing power of zama-zamas.

First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.

The story of the gold mine at Blyvooruitzicht is symbolic of so many things, most of all perhaps the decline of gold mining in SA. The mine, founded almost a century ago, is situated 5km south of Carletonville, and is so iconic that the village was the setting for a 1970s SABC TV soap opera called The Villagers. The highest point in the village is a hill called Isidingo, which is where the mine manager's house was built. The SA soap opera Isidingo derived its name from that hill.

It has changed ownership from Rand Mines, later to DRD, then Village Main Reef and more recently Blyvoor Gold. And the irony is that gold grades have always been good, so much so that in the 1970s the mine village was notionally one of the richest per capita places in the world (assisted...

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