Northam Platinum: Strike costs R500m

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Independent Newspapers.

Picture: Boxer Ngwenya.

Johannesburg - South Africa's Northam Platinum said on Friday it expects to lose 500 million rand ($48 million) this year to a strike by more than 7,000 employees and that talks to end the walk-out would only resume next year.

The mid-tier platinum producer also said in a statement the six-week strike by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) had cost employees 74 million rand in lost wages to date.

Prospects for a January resolution have been raised by NUM's two-year wage agreement this week with Anglo American Platinum, which will see rises of 7.5 to 8.5 percent, roughly in line with Northam's offer and above the inflation rate of 5.3 percent.

The company said its latest offer was “final.”

NUM's demands include a 16 percent wage increase and an almost 70 percent increase in the so-called “living-out allowance”, which is provided to miners who choose not to live in accommodation provided on mine property.

Producers of platinum in South Africa, which sits on about 80 percent of the known global reserves of the precious metal, are grappling with low prices, soaring costs and labour unrest.

Platinum prices have been depressed by sluggish demand, especially in the key European market where the metal is used to make emissions-capping converters for diesel engines.

The spot price is down around 15 percent this year. - Reuters

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