Minerals Council South Africa (MCSA), which is representing the gold companies AngloGold Ashanti, Harmony, Sibanye-Stillwater and Village Main Reef, said the producers had responded to union demands and queries on August 1 and made it clear where they could not consider increases, while unions reconsidered some of their demands.
On August 2, the producers tabled revised three-year offers ranging from 6-7.2% for category four underground employees and 3.5-4.5% for miners, artisans and officials, up from the previous 5.5-6.5% for category four underground employees, and 3-4.5% for miners and artisans and officials.
MCSA chief negotiator Motsamai Motlhamme said the offers were credible considering the "current precarious position of the industry as a result of a stagnant gold price, rising costs and falling profitability".
He noted that at entry level, the offers were well above the current consumer price index rate of 4.6.
"We urge the unions and employees to carefully consider the offers before we meet again. Only by ensuring the sustainability of the industry will mines remain viable and able to sustain jobs," he said.
Unions were not playing along though, with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) stating Thursday it had "declared a war with the gold producers over wage increases".
"The employers are continuing to be arrogant and are negotiating in bad faith … we can confirm that for the past two days, no progress was made and the employers are still far from reaching our member's demands," the union said.
The NUM's said it was demanding R9,450 (US$701.94) for surface workers, R10,450 for underground workers and 14.5% for miners, artisans and officials.
NUM general secretary and chief negotiator in the gold sector David Sipunzi said the offers were regarded as "disingenuous".
"This is indeed a war being declared by the gold producers. We will take their offers to our members with immediate effect and they are the one who will give us a way forward," he said.
Another union, Solidarity, was less emphatic, noting that the newest offers were still lacking and lower than what its members were expecting, with the monthly housing allowance increase to R2,200 from R2,100 a "step in the right direction", but still not enough.
Solidarity general secretary Gideon du Plessis said the union welcomed MCSA's agreement to "negotiate further on the revision of production bonuses to investigate the potential negative impact thereof on safety".
He said Solidarity also welcomed some of the company's positive reaction towards additional medical fund options, and the willingness to acknowledge trade union members who pay their membership fees by debit order, because only pay roll deductions were currently acknowledged.
The negotiations will continue on August 14 and 15.