Lonmin’s Limpopo
platinum mine
 
Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 13 November 2008 – Both union and company officials have confirmed that a strike over a pay dispute by more than 2 000 union members has halted production at a mine owned by Lonmin plc – the world’s third largest platinum producer.

Reuters quotes Lonmin as saying that the mine was relatively small, producing around 100 platinum ounces a day. “I can confirm that the employees at the Limpopo operation are out on strike. There are around 1 600 employees at the operation, and obviously we are not producing at the moment,” spokeswoman Alex Shorland-Ball told the news agency.

“We’re working with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) to resolve the issue as soon as possible,” she said, adding that the strike was not linked to Lonmin’s plans for restructuring, which may be announced later this month.

NUM – South Africa’s biggest mineworkers’ union – said the strike had started on Tuesday evening, and would last until a solution was found to the dispute. It was triggered by the collapse of long negotiations on the equalisation of pay for workers at Lonmin’s Limpopo mine and its other operations, according to NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka.

The union said in a statement that it wanted Lonmin to equalise pay between the Lonmin workforce in Limpopo and its workforce in Rustenburg. “The strike will last as long as the problems are there and as long as the company does not come up with a solution,” Seshoka told Reuters.

Lonmin has advised trade unions of possible lay-offs due to a big drop in demand for the metal from car makers, worsened by the current global economic meltdown.

The company also told unions in a letter late last month that it would present a revised structure of what it called “a more effective and smaller Lonmin” to its employees. It was currently evaluating its mines, and would speak about the process on 18 November when it published its annual results.