Johannesburg - Production at the world’s largest platinum mine will be paralysed until at least the middle of the year even if a work stoppage by the dominant union at the operation is resolved soon, Impala Platinum said.

“The resumption of normalised production levels at Impala Rustenburg, once the strike ends and operations resume, are expected to take at least three months to achieve,” the world’s second-biggest platinum producer, based in Johannesburg, said in a statement today.

“Consequently, no further production is expected from this operation in the final quarter of fiscal 2014,” which ends on June 30, it said.

About 70,000 workers who are members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union have been on strike at most South African operations of the world’s three largest platinum producers since January 23, seeking wage increases that the companies say they can’t afford.

Impala has lost about 246,000 ounces of platinum production since the strike started, it said.

Group platinum output declined 40 percent to 205,000 ounces in the company’s third quarter that ended March 31 from a year earlier, it said.

Prices achieved for the metal used in catalytic converters that reduce harmful carbon emissions from vehicles dropped 15 percent to $1,400 an ounce in the period from a year earlier. - Bloomberg News