(File photo) Protesters sing as they hold weapons outside the mine in Lonmin in Marikana, Rustenburg. Photo: Reuters


North West - More than 1 000 striking miners waving sticks and whips demonstrated on Wednesday at Lonmin's Marikana mine, where police shot dead 34 of their colleagues last month in the bloodiest security incident since the 1994 end of apartheid.

Dozens of police arrived at the scene while a helicopter hovered above the protesting rock-drill operators, whose strike to demand a hefty pay hike is now in its fourth week, crippling London-headquartered Lonmin .

One man at the front of the column waved a placard reading “We want 12,500 or nothing else”, a reference to the group's demand for a hike in base pay to R12 500 a month, more than double their current salary.

Another protester, who did not wish to be named, said the demonstrators were heading to Lonmin's nearby Karee mine to “take out the people who are working in the mine shaft”.

Marikana accounts for the vast majority of the platinum output of Lonmin, which itself accounts for 12 percent of global supply of the precious metal used in jewellery and vehicle catalytic converters.

Both Marikana and Karee, 100 km north-west of Johannesburg, have been closed since thousands of rock drillers went on a wildcat strike and protest nearly four weeks ago that led to the August 16 police crackdown.

Talks between Lonmin management, unions and the government to ease tensions and get the striking miners back to work are due to resume in the nearby city of Rustenburg, although the Marikana march suggests chances of a breakthrough are slim.

World platinum prices have risen more than 10 percent since the August 16 shooting, while Lonmin's Johannesburg- and London-listed shares have lost more than 15 percent. - Reuters