Production has been suspended at a giant Canadian-owned gold mine in Mauritania after the state ordered expatriates whose work permits had expired to stay home, a company spokesman told reporters on Saturday.
The latest stoppage at Tasiast mine in the country’s north comes a month after workers went on strike over plans by the owner Kinross to slash costs. The strike lasted 18 days.
A spokesman for Tasiast Mauritanie Ltd, a local subsidiary of Kinross, said the decision to suspend production was taken after Mauritanian Ministry of Labor on Friday “ordered all expatriates at Tasiast mine who, according to the ministry, do not have valid work permits, to stop working.”
The company “disagreed with the decision,” but had decided to temporarily halt output to ensure the workers’ safety, he added.
The spokesman, Raphael Sourt, did not say how many workers were affected by the Mauritanian government order.
Mine representatives were working with the Mauritanian government “to try to resolve the problem as quickly as possible in order to be able to resume normal operations,” he added.
The Mauritanian government, for its part, said it had intervened after a “routine” inspection of the mine to ensure workers had the necessary permits and that their rights were being upheld.
The stoppage comes a week after the workers ended an 18-day strike after the company agreed to begin talks on a collective pay agreement.
Nearly all the mine’s 1,041 permanent staff had taken part in the stoppage.
The mine, which produced 219,045 of gold equivalent ounces (6.2 tonnes) last year according to the company’s Web site, was once the world’s third-largest, but production has suffered from the falling price of gold.
Strikes have previously hit the mine in 2013 and 2011, also over pay and conditions.
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