Implats: Strike talks to resume

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AmcuHeadGear Reuters.

Johannesburg - Talks between the world's top three platinum producers and South Africa's striking AMCU union will resume on Friday in a bid to end a five-week stoppage over wages, the chief executive of Impala Platinum said.

Terence Goodlace told reporters on Thursday he had recently spoken with Joseph Mathunjwa, the president of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), whose members have also downed tools at Anglo American Platinum and Lonmin.

The fact the two sides are talking at the top level signals a renewed drive to end the stoppage, which has hit over 40 percent of global output of the precious metal used to make emissions-capping catalytic converters in automobiles.

But the companies and AMCU remain poles apart on the issue of wages.

Goodlace reiterated that the union's demand for a more than doubling of basic wages to 12,500 rand a month was “absolutely unobtainable”.

World no. 2 platinum producer Implats reported an 11 percent rise in half-year profit as it recovered from a wave of wildcat strikes that swept the sector in 2012 and reaped the benefits of a weaker rand.

But the rebound is being undone by the rumbling wage strike at its key Rustenburg operations.

“Given the current industrial relations climate and as part of the group's cash preservation measures, the board has decided not to declare an interim dividend,” Implats said.

The company's share price dropped 2.6 percent in early trade.

The strike in the heart of South Africa's platinum belt, northwest of Johannesburg, is costing the company 2,800 ounces - equivalent to 60 million rand - a day in lost production.

The company said headline earnings per share rose 10.8 percent to 860 million rand, or 142 cents per share, in the six months to the end of December. - Reuters

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