Richards Bay
Minerals
 
Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 03 September 2010 – The Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton joint venture, Richards Bay Minerals (RBM), has agreed to a final wage deal with workers to end a week-long strike and was due to resume full output today.

RBM said it had agreed to an 8% pay rise with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) for 2010, and a 7% increase each for 2011 and 2012. “We have settled for a three-year deal. We will return to full production on Friday,” RBM spokesperson Nthabiseng Motsepe told Reuters.

She said RBM had not lost any production during the strike, as it had put in place some contingency measures to mitigate the effects of the industrial action, but could not give further details.

The company also agreed to a 5% rise in housing allowance with the union for this year, but housing allowance increases for next year and 2012 would be linked to the rate of inflation in South Africa.

Separately Northam Platinum “’ which produced 321 475 ounces of platinum group metals (PGMs) in the year to end-June “’ said a planned strike by NUM members could hurt its production. “Northam is considering its position. The union’s demands are rather high,” spokesperson Marion Brower told Reuters.

“The strike will have an impact on production, depending on how long it lasts,” she said.

Northam has offered workers an 8% increase on a two-year deal. The NUM is demanding a 15% wage rise.

NUM spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said the union would not lower its demands at Northam, because it wanted workers’ pay to be improved beyond the current average of R3 500 per month before tax deductions.

“Generally, miners’ pay is poor in South Africa and we want it improved, contrary to assertions by some people that we are being unreasonable,” Seshoka added.

He went on to say that fresh pay negotiations were continuing at diversified miner Exxaro, but the company had not improved its 8% wage increase offer. The union is demanding a 14% rise at Exxaro.