Amplats CEO Chris Griffith. File picture: Leon Nicholas

Johannesburg - Anglo American Platinum, the world’s biggest platinum producer, has plenty of stockpiles to supply customers even as a strike in South Africa enters its tenth week, chief executive Chris Griffith said.

The company is operating at 60 percent of its normal capacity and still has about 215,000 ounces of platinum stockpiles, half the amount it had when the strike started January 23, Griffith told reporters today in Johannesburg.

He declined to say when the stockpiles would run out.

“We certainly have the ability to continue for a while longer and a good while longer,” Griffith said.

“Even if we could not continue to supply our customers from production we would do it through other methods and if that means buying in volume we would do so.”

About 70,000 employees who are members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union across the world’s three biggest platinum companies, which also include Impala Platinum and Lonmin, are striking over pay.

They’re asking that basic monthly wages be more than doubled to 12,500 rand within three years, a level at which Griffith said would make half the industry unprofitable.

South Africa produces about 70 percent of the world’s mined platinum.

Anglo American Platinum declined 0.5 percent to 468 rand by 3:09 p.m. in Johannesburg, paring the gain since the strike started to 8.3 percent.

The companies have lost 10.5 billion rand of revenue because of the stoppage, while workers have forfeited 4.7 billion rand in wages, the three producers said on a joint website. - Bloomberg News