Mineworkers outside
Anglo American
Platinum’s Bathopele
mine in South Africa’s
North West Province
Johannesburg, South Africa — 13 September 2012 – Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) has halted work at all its Rustenburg operations, citing threats of violence against its employees.

Miningmx reports that the five mines affected were Khuseseleka, Bathopele, Thembelani, Khomanani and Siphumelele. According to Anglo American spokesperson, Pranill Ramchander, the five shafts employed 26,000 workers and accounted for around 2,100oz in daily production.

CEO Chris Griffith said that the company’s workers were not on strike.

“In light of the current volatile situation in the Rustenburg area, where our employees, who want to go to work, are being prevented from doing so and are being intimidated by the threat of violence, Anglo American Platinum has decided to suspend its operations in the Rustenburg area with immediate effect,” said Griffith. “The suspension will continue until such time as operations can be safely resumed.”

Anglo American CEO Cynthia Carroll said it was unacceptable that employees were not able to go to work safely.

“We are in touch with the authorities at the highest level to identify how we can work together with our tripartite partners – government and the recognised labour unions – to achieve a swift and peaceful resolution to these illegal actions.

“Our Rustenburg operations are already under considerable economic pressure and the longer it is necessary to continue this suspension, the greater the risk to their long-term viability.”

News agency Sapa reported that a large group of protesters, carrying traditional weapons, gathered at Amplats’ Thembelani mine with police keeping watch. Five police nyalas and a water cannon were also at the scene. The protesters jeered workers inside the plant “’ a repeat of action taken on Monday at rival Lonmin’s neighbouring Marikana mine, where police shot dead 34 protesters on 16 August.

Lonmin, meanwhile, came no closer to solving its impasse with workers, reporting attendance of 1.8% across all its shafts. The group confirmed that another body had been found close to its operations, bringing the number of dead since the onset of a strike by rock drill operators to 45.

Asked for how long the company would be willing to give its current strategy of resolving the stand-off through a negotiated process a chance of success, Lonmin spokesperson Sue Vey said it would remain committed to talks for now.

"The longer the company is out of production, the larger the impact on the business and the greater the risk to future plans and jobs," Vey said. "We cannot speculate on what may or may not happen in the future but for now our focus is on getting back to operational stability."

Both Amplats and Lonmin closed down 4.05% yesterday at R417.50 and R77.14 respectively. Platinum was higher 1.74% at $1,636 per ounce.

Source: Miningmx. For more information, click here.