Picture: Timothy Bernard.

Johannesburg - Northam Platinum Ltd. reported a first-half loss after an 11-week strike at a South African mine cost the owner of the world’s deepest mine for the metal close to $68 million (R749 million) in lost sales.

Northam’s loss was 91.7 million rand for the six months ended December 31 compared with a profit of 146.8 million rand a year earlier, the Johannesburg-based company said in a statement today.

The Zondereinde mine, Northam’s biggest operating asset, resumed output after the National Union of Mineworkers signed a two-year deal on January 21 to end the walkout that included pay increases of as much as 9.5 percent.

Sales of platinum-group metals from the facility fell 16 percent to 4,620 kilograms (162,966 ounces), Northam said.

Employees at the South African operations of the world’s three biggest platinum producers remain on strike after talks stalled with another union.

“Social and economic uncertainty coupled with labor turbulence is likely to continue to influence the long term sustainability of the platinum industry in the foreseeable future,” the company said.

Northam raised 1 billion rand last year by selling 600 million rand of shares and obtaining an additional bank loan of 400 million rand to help weather stoppages and bolster finances for capital expenses at its new Booysendal mine.

The Booysendal site, which started production in July, is “not yet in a position to contribute positively to the group’s earnings,” Northam said. - Bloomberg News