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Johannesburg - Anglo-American unit Kumba Iron Ore said on Monday that it had fired nearly 300 workers who launched an illegal strike two weeks ago and seized billions of rands in equipment.
“The illegal strikers who have occupied the mine since 3 October have ignored an ultimatum to leave the mine and report for disciplinary hearings by 11am (09h00 GMT) on Monday,” the company said.
“As a result, they have been dismissed and criminal charges have been laid against them.”
A court on Monday ordered miners still illegally occupying Kumba's Shishen mine to leave and release equipment that they have threatened to destroy unless their wage demands are met.
Kumba Iron Ore spokesperson Gert Schoeman said fewer than 120 of the original 300 workers remained on top of a sand heap where they had taken up position, but that only about seven workers had shown up for the disciplinary hearings.
“In effect the rest of them were then dismissed,” he told AFP.
The miners seized 88 trucks and 13 other pieces of equipment which they have threatened to destroy if their demand for a pay increase is not met, the company said.
The Labour Court order stated that the miners must immediately leave the mine, release the equipment, and not come within 500m of the firm's property.
The police must remove the occupying workers if they refuse to leave, it said.
Situated in the Northern Cape, Sishen is Anglo American-owned Kumba's flagship facility and is one of the world's largest open-pit mines, according to the company's website.
The strike has paralysed the mine's operations since October 4 with daily production losses of about 120 000 tons.
The site employs around 12 700 workers, according to the company.
South Africa has been gripped by a wave of wildcat mining strikes that have spiralled out of the platinum sector into other industries including gold. - AFP