Daily Media Briefing 10th September

Daily Media Briefing


Posted in: Corporate Reputation, Daily Media Briefing, Employees, Environment

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September 10, 2012


Gold Fields says 15,000 workers strike at South Africa mine

A third of the South African workforce of the world’s fourth largest bullion producer Gold Fields have downed tools in an illegal strike in the latest labour stoppage to hit the mining sector in Africa's largest economy. Gold Fields last week resolved an illegal strike by 12,000 workers at its KDC East mine which started because of rank and file discontent with the local branch of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). The labour unrest has now spread to the KDC West operation with 15,000 workers striking, shutting production. Gold Fields said the reasons for the latest strike were unclear. There is swelling discontent against NUM among poorly-paid mineworkers who see its leadership as out of touch and too interested in politics because of the union leadership's close links to the ruling African National Congress. (Reuters)


South Africa ends fracking freeze       

South Africa has lifted a ban on the extraction of shale gas using the controversial fracking technique. There are said to be huge deposits of shale gas, possibly enough to supply South Africa with gas for 400 years, in the semi-desert Karoo area, known for its natural beauty. Campaigners warn that fracking- pumping water and chemicals into rock at high pressure- is dangerous for the environment, whilst supporters have said this ruling will bring jobs into the developing region. A government statement said a series of public consultations would now be held before any extraction began, whilst environmental impact studies will take two years, reports The Associated Press news agency. (BBC News)      

Corporate Reputation

Anglo American fights sick miners' legal action

Nearly 3,000 African gold miners have taken FTSE 100 giant Anglo American to the High Court, claiming that poor health and safety conditions have caused their debilitating lung diseases. Hausfeld, a legal firm that has battled multinationals over alleged support for the former apartheid regime in South Africa, recently lodged a claim on behalf of 1,056 people who worked in the country's mines. This adds to around 1,600 represented by London-based lawyer Leigh Day, which has already filed High Court claims against Anglo's South African subsidiary. The miners suffer from silicosis, a scarring of the lungs for which there is no known cure. AngloGold Ashanti, Harmony and Gold Fields also face claims in South Africa. One estimate states potential damages against all the companies could total $100 billion (£63 billion) to 280,000 people. An Anglo spokeswoman said that "Anglo American does not believe that it is in any way liable for the silicosis claims brought by former gold workers." (The Independent)

Shell criticised for limited testing of Alaska drilling containment equipment  

Shell has been criticised by Greenpeace and US group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) after apparently undertaking only the most limited testing of a key piece of equipment aimed at preventing a Gulf of Mexico-style blowout during its controversial drilling in the Arctic. PEER has accused Shell of inadequate capping tests related spill risks following a review of documents obtained under a Freedom of Information Act. It was also found that there has not been any independent verification of the tests. Environmental campaigners Greenpeace said the limited testing of the crucial sub-sea cap displayed a total disregard for even the most basic safety standards. The company hopes to drill exploratory wells in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas in this year's open-water season, which will end soon. (The Guardian)    

RBS in talks to settle Libor allegations 

Royal Bank of Scotland, 82% owned by the British government, is braced for a settlement with regulators over Libor manipulation that could cost it £200-£300 million- on a par with the landmark £290 million fine imposed on Barclays in June- with the first payment likely within three months. Investigations are being led by the Financial Services Authority and, in the US, by the Department of Justice and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. This tension has heightened in recent weeks with the involvement of the Serious Fraud Office, which announced in July a criminal investigation into manipulation of Libor and other rates. (Financial Times*)        

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