Mines reopen, situation still tense

2012-09-17 10:30

Johannesburg - Two mines in South Africa reopened their doors on Monday after suspending operations last week as a precaution against the labour unrest sweeping through the region's platinum belt, although the situation on the ground remained tense.

Police launched a crackdown over the weekend to disarm miners and end five weeks of labour unrest, following a government promise to get tough on strikes that have choked off platinum output in the world's top producer of the metal.

Soldiers have also been called in to help the police, although their precise role is not clear.

Aquarius Platinum's Kroondal platinum mine and Xstrata's chrome mine near Rustenburg restarted on Monday.

Anglo Platinum (Amplats), the world's top platinum producer, said work at its strike-hit Rustenburg mines would resume on Tuesday, although a representative of one group of strikers described that as a "joke", adding Amplats management were "whistling in the dark".

"For us, the reality is that the general strike is on," Mametlwe Sebei, a self-styled Rustenburg community leader and Marxist politician, told Reuters. "We are going to be demonstrating in defiance. We will not be intimidated."

Christopher Tsatsawane, a spokesperson for Xstrata Alloys, said the situation in Rustenburg remained tense.

"As our employees were coming to work, there has been intimidation which is all over Rustenburg," he said, adding that only 10% of its chrome mine's employees reported for work at the weekend due to intimidation.

Xstrata and other platinum mines in the area have been hit by wildcat strikes since police killed 34 miners at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine on August 16, the bloodiest police action since the end of apartheid in 1994.

A total of 45 people have been killed in the unrest.

Police raided a Lonmin hostel on Saturday and seized spears, machetes and other weapons from strikers. They late used rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse groups of protesters.

Wage talks between the miners and Lonmin are due to resume at 08:00 GMT.

On Friday, workers at the mine dismissed an initial Lonmin offer as way below the R12 500 a month sought by members of the militant Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), which is challenging the influence of the more established National Union of Mineworkers (Num).

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  • charl.reaper - 2012-09-17 10:37

    The market for now has priced in the effect of the strikes. It will depend on the effect of the talks today. Having had more stimulus from the FED, good or bad, it will cause asset prices to rise. For how long this round of stimulus will last in pushing riskier asset prices higher is another debate for another time. I therefore would see no need for a bailout at this point. We also might see CDS lower on the SA bonds. It really will depend if they can come to some sort of an agreement this week. Investors have not actually unwound all their investments in SA at this point. The other thing that may help is the fact that the police and army are committed it seems to disarming the protestors. Which will allow them to hopefully protest in a non violent manner. From the view of pension holders and investors here at home it would be best if the matter can be resolved. A improvement in living conditions by the mining companies would be a great move from the mining companies. On top of that I would recommend a raise but not give in to the 12500 demand but focus on using what would have been used as the extra to achieve the 12500 and put that into better living conditions. Yes it is true that miners are uneducated and that there are a number of people that can replace them, I would like to state something's about the work they do: 1. Remember that even though an article Clark that has an honors degree will start at 8500 their earning potential is exponential going forward. The growth curve for a miner is almost a flat curve at real value excluding inflation. 2. Having taken point 1 into account we therefore have to look at the life expectancy of a miner. The probability of a miner living a healthy long life is very low. The medical benefits they receive I can't comment on as I unfortunately do not have a draft of what they receive in front of me. So I understand the reason for a demand in wage increase however the new proposed table from Friday night looks promising. I however would suggest adding housing improvements in the community. Lastly politically. We all understand that running a country is not an easy task. It really goes about managing the revenue generated by the government. I personally think it has little to do with race or even culture. Yes the government feel it is only fair that their main group of supporters benefit and prefer to focus on population demographic. This actually is fine because having been in power for 18y we now have people of all races capable of managing the funds better. We need the correctly qualified people in the posts of management. And to all those wanting to say a certain race can't do it I disagree as we have for example actuaries, very difficult qualification to get, of all races qualifying. The government to maintain its strong following needs to focus on bettering the living conditions and education in the country. Unfortunately suppressing the masses going forward hoping they will not be able to comprehend that promises are not being met is not going to work going forward. This unfortunate incident is really the tipping point for the government. As the followers are now questioning their leaders integrity and service delivery. Excuse any spelling errors or grammatical mistakes, this was done from my phone and is just also my two cents worth. Also please note that is is in no way a recommendation to invest or retract current investments, it is purely my own thoughts and not in anyway shape or form investment or financial advice.

  • blignault.michaele - 2012-09-17 10:37

    For how long before Juju interferes again!!

  • henk.vanrensburg.31 - 2012-09-17 10:44

    FIRE THEM ALL!!!!!

      thabang.bonang.7 - 2012-09-17 14:37

      After reading a good comment from charl.reaper I come across you and Blignault.michele's comment. Eish!!!!

  • veldt66 - 2012-09-17 10:55

    The minority hve a lot to lose that's why they want workers forced back to work!!!

      christiaan.vanvuuren.9 - 2012-09-17 11:05

      In fact stand to benefit from this.... Not just the minority

      annelene.munro - 2012-09-17 13:16

      Everybody, but mostly the poor will be hurt if the mines cannot export minerals. If our balance of payments take a dip, ie. if we import far more than we export, our rand will weaken so that we have to pay more for oil, so petrol price rises and with it all the other price rises. The mines buy a lot of goods from other firms, so if they cannot operate, no purchases, so there will most likely be job losses in that sector. The Lonmin mine not doing so good financially. In the six months ending 31/3/12 their income dipped by 187 million dollars, and their expenses rose by 56 million dollars. Striking workers should talk to the miners at the Aurora mine who hasnt been paid for 4 years to see what happens when a mine is liquidated

      dewaldmontgomery - 2012-09-17 13:36

      Actually, the MAJORITY stands to loose most, because if the mines don't run, the state loses BILLIONS in taxes, which can't go towards delivering services to the majority.

  • johan.jacobs.5680 - 2012-09-17 11:14

    The miners took a long shot,that missed.Things will return to business as usual.

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