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Chamber: Mining industry not in crisis

Sep 16 2012 12:42 Sapa

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Johannesburg - Industrial action does not necessarily mean the entire mining industry is in crisis, the Chamber of Mines said on Sunday.

"We need to understand the causes of the industrial action that is taking place when we have existing wage agreements," spokesman Vusi Mabena said.

Strikes were not taking place across the sector, he said. They were restricted to platinum and possibly to gold.

It was a "serious generalisation" to say that the industry was in crisis.

"When the strikes took place, the platinum industry was going through hard times," he said.

There were not enough buyers, and a task team from the government and industry had been investigating alternative markets in order for the platinum industry to be sustainable.

"When the demand [for a salary of R12,500 a month] came in, there were already concerns about the sector," he said.

On Saturday, the Bench Marks Foundation criticised the government, police, and platinum producer Lonmin for firing rubber bullets at residents and protesters in the Nkaneng informal settlement in Marikana.

"I am shocked and extremely angry to hear today [Saturday] that the police are out in full force and people have phoned me to tell me that workers have been shot at," the foundation's chairman Bishop Jo Seoka, who is also the president of the SA Council of Churches, said in a statement

"In addition, six women walking in Marikana were shot [at] with rubber bullets, and one is in hospital," he said.

Seoka was concerned that the hard work to maintaining peace could end because of the violence.

He said the government and Lonmin should be held accountable.

"The workers have been peaceful, [have] not injured anyone.... Police asked the workers to give in any weapons. This they did and then they were shot at. This is a gross violation of human rights," he said.

The Bench Marks Foundation is an independent faith-based organisation monitoring corporate performance, and is involved in the mediation process at the mine.

On Saturday, several residents claimed they were injured when police fired rubber bullets at them.

One resident Melita Ramasedi said she was wounded while watching police breaking up a crowd of protesters.

"I am deeply hurt by this situation. A police nyala drove past us, we were a group of women and others ran away.

"I just stood there, watching and they shot me in my leg," she said showing her bleeding leg.

Another woman, Ntombe Ncence told journalists she was at the entrance of a spaza shop when she was hit by a rubber bullet.

"I do not understand why the police officers shot me. I was knocking at the door of a shop and police officers inside a nyala shot my leg."

Earlier, protesters gathered at the site where 34 people were killed by police on August 16.

Police used rubber bullets and pepper spray to disperse the crowd.

Police also raided a nearby hostel, where a number of people were arrested and a variety of weapons were seized, including knobkerries and pangas.

Brigadier Thulani Ngubane said the arrests were part of a disarmament operation.

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