02 Members of The National Union of mine workers sing and dance before the launch of of NUM National congress. Picture Antoine de Ras: 28/05/09

Johannesburg - The National Union of Mineworkers and Aquarius Platinum signed a three-year wage agreement, the union said on Monday.

“It was excruciating in the sense that Aquarius Platinum is a low-grade platinum producer in South Africa. The expectations are always very high from the employees to compete with other platinum producers,” NUM said in a statement.

“It is also very difficult to negotiate under the polluted industrial environment. We had to make a hard choice for us to reach and sign this agreement.”

Aquarius Platinum operates in South Africa and Zimbabwe.

In South Africa it operates in the Kroondal Mine, Marikana Mine, both near Rustenburg, in North West Province, and Everest Mine near Mashishing in Mpumalanga.

The details of the wage agreement are that increases on basic wages would be applied as monthly salary increases.

Key categories - including minimum surface, minimum underground, miner assistant, team leader - will receive a 12 percent increase in year one, and 11 percent in year two and year three.

The remaining work categories - including clerks and roof bolters - will receive 10 percent in the first year, 10 percent in the second year and a 10 percent increase in year three.

The agreement would be effective from July 1, 2014 until June 30, 2017.

Aquarius Platinum was not immediately available for comment.

Earlier this year, there was a five-month-long strike in the platinum sector.

Anglo American Platinum, Lonmin, and Impala Platinum signed a three-year wage agreement with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) on June 24, ending the strike.

In terms of the agreement, the salary of the lowest-paid worker would increase by R1000 in the first two years and R950 in the third year.

Amcu members went on strike on January 23 for a basic monthly salary of R12 500.