‘Platinum strikes cost R400m a day’

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AmcuStrikeAllGreen Independent Media. Picture: Timothy Bernard.

Johannesburg - Wage talks between South Africa's AMCU union and the world's top three platinum producers resumed on Tuesday with hopes progress will be made by the end of the week to end a nearly two-week strike costing the industry R400 million a day.

Members of the hardline Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) walked out at Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), Impala Platinum and Lonmin last month demanding monthly wages be more than doubled.

The strike has hit around 40 percent of global platinum supply.

“The strikes are currently costing the industry about 197 million rand per day,” said Roger Baxter, the chief operations officer at South Africa's Chamber of Mines, the main industry body.

“We estimate that the daily cost to the country is closer to 400 million rand a day.”

Government mediators said on Sunday they had made a proposal to end the strike but did not give details.

Amplats chief executive Chris Griffith said on Monday there might be progress by the end of this week as people on the ground “don't want this to be a protracted strike.”

The producers, who have been wrestling with souring inputs costs and suppressed platinum prices, say the wage demands are unaffordable and unrealistic.

Wildcat strikes in 2012 also dented the industry profit margins and output and another drawn-out strike will hurt recovery.

Another labour group, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), walked out at Amplats refineries and smelters on Monday, but the processing operations had not been affected, the company said. - Reuters

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