Amplats workers return to mine
World No. 1 platinum producer Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) said on Friday 100 workers who had refused to go underground at its Thembelani mine in South Africa had ended their brief stay away and returned to work.
There had been no immediate threat to production at Amplats as the mine employs over 4,100 people, but the sector is on tenterhooks in the wake of a violent strike at Lonmin that saw 34 striking miners gunned down by police last week.
“All employees have now reported for work,” Amplats said in a statement.
The company also said wage talks between management and six representatives from among the workers had ended on a “positive” note, without elaborating.
In another development, junior producer Royal Bafokeng Platinum said it had received an undertaking that the 500 employees who participated in an illegal strike earlier this week would return.
It said allegations of intimidation would be independently investigated and appropriate action would be taken if required.
“In spite of the loss of approximately 14,000 tonnes planned to have been hoisted over the three days ... total tonnes milled for the month should remain unaffected due to the stockpile processed during this period,” it said.
In the fortnight since the Lonmin strike began the spot price of the white metal used for emissions-capping catalytic converters in cars has spiked over 10%.
Already struggling with soaring costs and weak global demand, the platinum sector has been hit by a union turf war, transforming workers into warriors as the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union takes on the dominant National Union of Mineworkers.
The chief executive of Northam Platinum, one of South Africa’s smaller platinum producers, said on Friday the company was also in AMCU’s sites.
“We have heard AMCU rumblings in the background and have been made aware of posters and meetings,” Glyn Lewis told reporters after the group posted full-year results that showed a 10% decline in earnings.