Platinum mines boost security amid strike

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Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) president Joseph Mathunjwa (left) and Amcu's national treasurer, Jimmy Gama, are seen during a media briefing. File picture: Tiro Ramatlhatse

Johannesburg - As the wage strike at the three biggest platinum producers enters its fifth day, stocks are expected to rise while mines are beefing up security measures in anticipation of violence.

Impala Platinum (Implats) has increased security measures across its Rustenburg property. “We have more than 1 000 guards and reaction personnel on site,” Implats spokeswoman Alice Lourens said on Friday.

The second-biggest platinum producer has cancelled the night shift and introduced a 24-hour emergency hotline and response system. Non-striking workers are escorted to work.

Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) has also bolstered security measures. Spokeswoman Mpumi Sithole said yesterday: “The weekend has been quiet. The last activity we saw was on Friday. The numbers have been less than 10 percent of clock-in.”

Amplats was losing about 4 000 ounces of production a day, it said on Friday. Implats and Lonmin said they would lose 2 800 and 3 100 ounces a day, respectively. The 9 900 ounces they say they are losing daily is worth $14.3 million (R154m) at Friday’s spot price.

About 70 000 Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) members downed tools on Thursday to demand a minimum salary of R12 500.

Amcu’s strike at some gold mines was put on hold for 10 days on Wednesday pending the outcome of a court application by the Chamber of Mines. It wants to prevent a strike at Harmony Gold, Sibanye Gold and AngloGold Ashanti.

National Planning Minister Trevor Manuel and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan criticised the strikes from Davos, Switzerland. Strikes “damage exports, which has implications for our trade account and for perceptions of the mining industry”, Gordhan said.

Manuel said: “Cosatu is living through its own summer of discontent, Amcu has divisions. That bodes poorly for the industrial relations environment, because there are too many forces who kind of want to thump their chests. What the country needs is a labour market that operates efficiently.”

Gold stocks leapt against a declining trend on the JSE on Friday. Harmony rose 5.92 percent to R33.10 and AngloGold Ashanti added 6.76 percent to R158. The top three platinum stocks lost less than 1 percent.

Sibonginkosi Nyanga of Imara said platinum stocks would rise as the strikes were expected to deplete above-ground platinum inventory, leading to an increase in the platinum metal price.

Mine management, Amcu, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant and Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu will resume mediation talks today that commenced on Friday. – Additional reporting by Bloomberg and Asha Speckman


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