The tapping of smelter
matte at Impala Platinum’s
Mineral Processes
Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 01 March 2012 – Impala Platinum Holdings Limited (IMP) may restart the world’s biggest platinum mine next week after employees agreed to return to work, ending a four-week stoppage that cut global supplies by more than 100,000 ounces.

“It has been agreed to call an end to the illegal work stoppage,” Impala said in an e-mailed statement from here, after meeting with the National Union of Mineworkers and a delegation of rock-drill operators.

Implats is to reinstate, with previous benefits, 15,000 employees. Miningmx reports that, given that 17,200 employees were dismissed when the strike began, it means some 2,200 jobs were made redundant.

Implats spokesman Johan Theron said some had been dismissed as they had been identified as perpetrators of the violence that had wracked the mine.

Elsewhere, the company had sought to make short work of imminent cutbacks. “Clearly, this gives some indication that we won’t restart in all of the areas of the mine,” said Theron.
It wasn’t worth returning certain crews in areas of the mine that required lots of tramming and where operations would only have continued for months, he said. These workers would have been redeployed to the 20 shaft project that Implats is starting.

The question as to whether more cutbacks would be enforced at the mine is a moot one. “There are lots of variables,” said Theron.

Implats said preference to reinstatements would be given to returning employees on a first-come-first-served basis. “If we receive more than 15,000 applications, we will keep a recall list and as soon as opportunities become available, those on the list will be prioritised,” Implats said.

“The company’s main focus now will be to return to normal operations as soon as possible. We hope to start phasing in production from Monday 5 March, following safety inductions and medical screening for all returning employees,” Implats said in its announcement.

The stoppage cut global supplies of platinum, used in cars and jewellery, by 3,000 ounces daily, costing Impala more than R2 billion rand of revenue. Impala’s Rustenburg mine produces about 12% of global output of the metal.