Last night we reported that the troubles for South Africa's metal mining industry, which accounts for 20% of the nation's GDP, have spread, when in the aftermath of the Lonmin Marikana Platinum mine bloodbath which saw 44 miners shot by police another mine - this time Gold Fields' KDC mine - went dark as the bulk of the firm's miners went on strike. Moments ago AP reported that violence has erupted at a third mine, this time the gold mine owned by the nephew of Nelson Mandela, where 4 workers have been shot. So much for an amicable resolution, or for gold production returning to historical levels.
Police and politicians say four miners have been shot and injured, apparently by security guards using rubber bullets at a gold mine owned by the South African president's nephew and a grandson of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela.
Monday's shooting comes after firebrand politician Julius Malema visited the Aurora gold mine last week and told fired mineworkers that he was going to make South African mines ungovernable.
Police spokeswoman Pinky Tsinyane said four miners were shot and that police have arrested four people for public violence.
Two weeks ago, police killed 34 striking miners at a platinum mine. Scores of miners arrested at the scene of that mass shooting northwest of Johannesburg await release Monday.
Expect more South African mines to shutter, as gold production in the world's third largest gold producer grinds to a halt, and the local workers grasp they had the leverage all along. Should the South African example spread to other countries, then expect the price of gold to soar regardless of how much printing the central planners engage in the coming weeks and month.
For those curious for some more info on the Aurora mine, you are in luck. Aside from everyting else, it appears that the name of the actual mine is "Orkney" - Johnny Drama would be proud. Somewhat amusingly, the below blurb is from "In Defense of Marxism" - a website that somehow still does not have a US branch...
Aurora mine scandal highlights the need to struggle for socialism
In October 2009, South African mining company Aurora Empowerment Systems took over Pamodzi Gold Ltd when it went into liquidation. As a result, Aurora started to run two gold mines, Grootvlei mine in Springs, on the East Rand, and the Orkney mine in the North West.
Soon, the company ran into trouble and by February and March of this year, miners at both mines stopped receiving their wages. Aurora had also accumulated debts with the tax office, the unemployment insurance, the miners’ pension fund, as well as creating environmental damage through contamination of water in one of its operations. The company’s 1200 workers, most of them miners who work 1000 metres underground and live in run-down hostels with no schools, have not received their wages since. Since April, there has been no water and no electricity at the hostels.
Then in August, four bodies were found in Aurora’s Grootvlei mine, after reports appeared in the newspapers that security guards had killed up to 20 “illegal miners”. The investigation has not yet been completed.
The story is even more scandalous because Aurora owners are extremely well connected individuals: Mandela's grandson Zondwa is managing director of the company and Zuma's nephew Khulubuse is chairman. They still live a life of luxury which is paraded everyday in the pages of South African newspapers. In September, Khulubuse Zuma attended the wedding of national police commissioner Bheki Cele in a R2.5-million Mercedes-Benz SLS63 AMG gullwing.
Aurora was supposed to be a model of “Black Economic Empowerment”, the mechanism through which a handful of black businesspeople (many of them with links with the liberation movement and even the trade union movement) have become capitalists themselves while the majority of South Africa’s poor and working class population still suffer from low wages, lack of housing, landlessness, etc.
Now, the miners have taken action demanding the payment of their wages and to get their jobs back. We publish here a letter we have received from South Africa regarding this issue, which expressed the depth of anger which has accumulated over this struggle, and also advocates the only solution to the problem: nationalization under workers’ control.
The scandal of Aurora highlights one of the main issues confronting the workers’ movement in South Africa: the end of apartheid has given everyone political rights, but workers are still oppressed by capitalists. The only difference is that some of these are now black, but they are still capitalists, out to make a profit from the exploitation of the working class. The attempt to solve the “race question” without addressing the “class question” has failed miserably. The only way forward is the struggle for socialism, where “the mineral wealth beneath the soil, the Banks and monopoly industry shall be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole” as is stated in the Freedom Charter. The struggle for nationalization under workers’ control of Aurora should be seen as part of that wider struggle.
Perhaps the take home here is that in addition to being an antidote to the stupidity of politicians, and the printing of central planners, gold is now also the hedge against socialism, as the "workers' takeover" of more and more South African (and then global) gold production means only one thing: an inevitable collapse in supply and production.