Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 21 January 2010 – A sit-in by some 58 workers over a wage dispute has halted production at the Two Rivers mine in South Africa, but a spokesman for the company involved says supply of the metal is unlikely to be affected in the short term.
Reuters reports that a team of workers at the main shaft of the mine “’ which is owned by African Rainbow Minerals (ARM) and Impala Platinum “’ stopped working late on Tuesday night and remained underground demanding back pay in a dispute that appears to have caught both the workers’ respective unions and management off-guard.
ARM executive Mike Schmidt said the operation produced some 200 ounces of platinum a day, and was now relying on stockpiled ore to sustain market supply. Mined ore was also being hoisted from underground, he added.
“Our production profile is not affected yet “’ this kind of action would have to last for about a week to affect output,” Schmidt told Reuters.
He denied claims by National Union of Mineworker’s (NUM) spokesman Lesiba Seshoka that the NUM’s members were being held hostage by members of a smaller union, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU).
In a statement issued here, the NUM urged law enforcement agencies to ensure the safety of its workers at the mine, located in the Mpumalanga province. The NUM said it was unaware of the workers’ grievances.
“We are not aware of a hostage situation,” Schmidt said. “Management has gone down to speak to the workers, and some of the workers have come up to get food and drink, but no one has indicated that they are being held against their will,” he added.
AMCU’s regional secretary for Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces Jimmy Gama said the union had disassociated itself from the sit-in action, and had urged its members to return to work.
He said the union was aware the dispute was over wages, but he did not know the specific nature of the workers’ demands. His union was trying to get more details.
“They are doing it independently. We have distanced ourselves from that action and want them to come out,” he said. “We are not aware of a hostage situation. As far as I know I don’t think this is what is going on,” Gama added.