JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Growing unrest at Sibanye-Stillwater's South African gold operations has left nine people dead since workers downed tools in November, prompting the country's mines minister to call on the police to step in and protect the local community.
Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe has requested the assistance of the Minister of Police to "restore and safeguard the safety and security of the community" in Carletonville in the west of Johannesburg, the mines ministry said.
"[The strike] has become violent, impacting negatively on communities in the area, with nine deaths reported thus far and an estimated 62 houses burnt down," the mineral resources department said.
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) has been on strike at Sibanye's bullion operations since mid-November and plans to extend the strike to its platinum mines as well as all other mines where the AMCU has members.
Sibanye-Stillwater said last month it could cut nearly 6,000 jobs at its gold mining operations, where AMCU has been on strike since mid-November over a wage dispute.
Firms including AngloGold Ashanti, Harmony Gold, Anglo American Platinum who received a strike notice are awaiting a labour court ruling which will decide if mineworkers' can embark on an industry-wide strike.
South Africa is home to the world's biggest platinum group metals deposits and accounts for just over 90 percent of global production.
The police minister is expected to visit the area in the next few days, the mines ministry said.
(Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg, editing by Louise Heavens)