South Africa-based gold producer Gold Fields is planning to reduce its workforce by 500 at its South Deep mine, according to the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).
The 500 jobs represent roughly 13% of its 4,000 permanent and 1,700 contracted workers at the South Deep mine.
Gold Fields CEO Nick Holland said the Johannesburg-based mine had more equipment and people than it needed and planned to shed portions of both.
"Both of these are prerequisites for an improved safety culture and improved productivity, which are deemed critical to de-risk the mine's build-up to full production and ensure that South Deep achieves its full potential," Holland said.
According to Gold Fields, the company wanted to concentrate more on the mine, which was purchased for $3bn in 2006. It also recently hired 15 Australian experts to improve operations at the mine and train employees.
The move by Gold Fields came a day after operations were temporarily stopped following two recent fatal accidents.
NUM general secretary Frans Baleni said: "Recently, two people had been killed and now they are destroying those who are still alive through retrenchment, which in the long-run will affect their livelihood and lives."
The recent accidents have forced the Department of Mineral Resources to halt most of its production and perform a safety review.
The pause in operations will result in the loss of about 64,300oz of gold at South Deep, which accounts for 16% of the mine's total production.
Meanwhile, Holland said that in addressing these issues the company will not only ensure the safety of its people, but also the long-term integrity and sustainability of the mine.