Dineo Faku and Reuters

Feedback from day one of the court-mediated talks with platinum producers and the sector’s main mining union was lukewarm, the chief executive of Impala Platinum (Implats) said yesterday, adding that the four-month strike could last much longer.

Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), Implats and Lonmin have been battered by a mining strike over wages that began on January 23 and has collectively cost the trio almost $2 billion (R21bn) in lost revenue.

The talks, aimed at ending the country’s longest-ever mining dispute, started on Wednesday and are expected to last (for) three days.

“So far as hope is concerned, the feedback that I have got was lukewarm from yesterday, but they are going back into session today,” Implats chief executive Terence Goodlace told Reuters regarding the talks.

Asked how long the strike could last, Goodlace said: “It’s almost like [asking] how long is a piece of string. I suppose the proper answer… is that it could go on for much longer because we [the two parties] are so far apart… My expectation is they [the talks] will probably go on for longer.”

Meanwhile, a National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) member was stabbed and killed on his way to work at Amplats’ Union Mine near Rustenburg, North West, yesterday morning, the union said. The NUM member, a Mozambican national, was killed at Sondela squatter camp.

“He is one of the NUM members who returned to work last week, and he was threatened that he should stop going to work by the striking workers,” Steve Modimokwane, the NUM branch chairman at the Union Mine, said.

He appealed to the government to stop the killings. “We call on workers in the platinum belt to stop killing one another, but build unity in order to fight for improved wages and better working conditions”.