South African
environment minister
Edna Molewa
Johannesburg, South Africa — 16 May 2013 – Confusion reigns over Lonmin plc’s mining operations at Marikana, 120km north-west of Johannesburg in South Africa, with Lonmin saying this morning that 83% of employees have returned to work, and an AMCU official saying three hours later that Anglo Platinum miners would stop work from this evening over proposed job cuts.

“The night shift today is not going underground and also the day shift tomorrow is not going to work,” said the branch official, who did not want to be identified. He could not say how long the stoppage might last, reports Fin24.

Amplats, the platinum arm of Anglo American and world’s biggest producer of the precious metal, said last week it would cut 6,000 jobs at its Rustenburg mines, a major reduction from an initial plan to slash 14,000 positions that triggered outrage from the government.

Despite the revisions, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), whose sudden emergence last year has roiled South Africa’s mining sector, reacted angrily to the announcement and vowed to take action.

Earlier this morning, Lonmin spokesperson Sue Vey said 83% of employees had returned to work with the night shift on Wednesday, an indication the wildcat strike appeared to be over.

Months of violent labour unrest in the mining sector last year, including the police killing of 34 striking miners at Lonmin’s Marikana mine, hit growth in Africa’s biggest economy and triggered credit rating downgrades.

The prospect of another round of trouble sent the rand down more than 1% against the dollar to R9.352, close to a four-year low of R9.3655 hit in March. Amplats shares fell more than 5% to their lowest since late 2005.

In Cape Town, the cabinet was “extremely, extremely concerned” about the labour unrest, environment minister Edna Molewa told reporters at a post-cabinet news conference.

“We are committed to work very hard with the teams in Marikana and throughout the country to bring about stability,” she said. “We are confident that we will be able to cap this problem and nip it in the bud.”

Amplats spokesperson Mpumi Sithole said the company had received no notification of an intent to strike.

Source: Fin24. For more information, click here.