Miner Gold Fields Extends Dismissal Deadline
The world's fourth largest gold miner has extended its ultimatum to striking workers for 24 hours - after thousands of miners failed to work a full shift.
South Africa's Gold Fields mine issued an ultimatum to 23,500 striking staff to return to work by 1pm BST on Thursday or face the sack.
But although 11,000 miners clocked in for work at its KDC West mine, they did not stay for a full shift.
Gold Fields' spokesperson Sven Lunsche described the threat of dismissal as "the last throw of the dice".
"It is a last resort for us - if the miners stay away for another few weeks we would have to shut our shafts down," he told Sky News.
The strikes have already cost the company around one billion South African rand (£71.7m), he added.
The company extended the deadline until 1pm BST on Friday, after which "we will proceed with the dismissals," Mr Lunsche warned.
All 9,000 workers at Gold Fields' Beatrix mine have returned to work after responding to the initial dismissal ultimatum.
It comes as the South African mining industry battles the worst industrial action it has seen for decades.
"This is a very dire situation for us and the mining industry in South Africa general," Mr Lunsche said.
More than 80,000 miners have gone on strike since August, hitting growth and investor confidence in Africa's biggest economy.
A further 4,000 workers are striking at Lonmin's Marikana mine - where police killed 34 striking workers in the summer - further disrupting its platinum mining operations.