Johannesburg - Anglo American Platinum is considering whether it should keep its mines in South Africa’s Rustenburg area, where a strike that’s in its third month has crippled output by the world’s three biggest producers.

The company has “already indicated we’re exiting Union mines; Rustenburg mines are now part of the consideration,” Chris Griffith, the chief executive officer of the Anglo American unit known as Amplats, said in an interview after the company’s annual general meeting in Johannesburg today.

“We’re now thinking very seriously: does it form part of the future of this company?”

The biggest operations of Amplats, Impala Platinum and Lonmin have been halted since January 23 after the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union led more than 70,000 employees on a strike in support of higher wages.

South Africa accounts for more than two-thirds of the world’s mined metal, used for jewellry and catalytic converters in vehicles to reduce harmful emissions.

Amplats, the world’s largest platinum producer, last year lost 7,438 jobs as it merged five mines at its Rustenburg complex into three to help it return to profit.

As many as 1,400 positions will be removed this year after reclamation at the closed mines is finished, it said on February 3.

Amplats, Impala and Lonmin have lost 11.1 billion rand of revenue since the walkout started, while employees have forfeited 5 billion rand of pay, the producers said on a joint website. - Bloomberg News