Johannesburg, South Africa — 27 September 2012 – An illegal strike has spread through the local operations of AngloGold Ashanti while Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) said it could start firing unlawful strikers today, as the country’s miners grapple to rein in weeks of labour unrest.
Quoting Reuters, Fin24 reports that a wave of wildcat action is hammering South African mines despite the end of an illegal six-week stoppage at platinum producer Lonmin in which 46 people were killed and the price of the white metal was pushed higher.
Mining shares dropped in Johannesburg yesterday with Amplats extending steep losses to over 6% after its chief executive Chris Griffith described the country’s platinum sector as “in crisis”.
Most of AngloGold’s 35 000 workers have joined the wildcat action that began last week at its Kopanang mine. The company is the world’s No.3 bullion producer and South Africa accounted for about 32% of its global output of close to 2Moz of gold in the first half of 2012.
Illegal strike action has also gripped Gold Fields and the world’s top platinum producer Amplats.
Amplats said attendance at its four Rustenburg mines remained below 20% and it would take action against strikers from today, including the prospect of dismissals. It has made such threats before but then extended the deadlines, perhaps mindful of the violence unleashed when rival Impala Platinum fired strikers in January.
But CEO Griffith struck a tough tone in a conference call with journalists, saying: “At some point in time, we have got to put our foot down and we have now reached that position.”
“We are not going to entertain wage negotiations at this point in time.”
Much of the platinum sector in South Africa has been battling with soaring costs and weak demand and Anglo American has launched a review of its Amplats’ operations.
“Our Rustenburg mining operations are under considerable economic pressure and their future is already under review,” Griffith said. “The platinum industry is in dire straits at the moment. This is an industry that is in crisis,” he added.
In total there are close to 75 000 workers on strike or prevented from going to work because of intimidation across South Africa’s mining sector “’ about 15% of the workforce.
Source: Fin24. For more information, click here.