Mines strikes could spread
WORLD number two platinum producer Impala Platinum has warned that strikes at South Africa's platinum mines, resulting in the death of workers at Implats and its rival Lonmin could become more widespread.
A violent six-week strike at Implats' Rustenburg operations early this year sliced 21% off its full-year production and, combined with declining metals prices, led to a sharp cut in its dividend, to R1.95 a share from R5.70 last year.
"The platinum industry is experiencing increased levels of industrial action, as witnessed at both Impala Rustenburg at the beginning of this year and more recently at Lonmin, with the associated tragic loss of life. These developments pose a significant risk to the industry," said Implats' newly installed chief executive Terence Goodlace.
Describing the labour relations at Implats' operations as "relatively stable", Goodlace said the trade union rivalry that sparked the strike at both its operations and Lonmin's was still "fairly volatile".
The platinum price has also jumped to a three-month high on the threat that South Africa, as supplier of 80% of the world's platinum, could be disrupted indefinitely.
Meanwhile South Africa's Impala Platinum said yesterday it had joined the country's chamber of mines as a full member, a move that could see it eventually bargain collectively with other companies and stem a wave of labour unrest.