Amplats halts production as strikes erupt

WILDCAT strikes halted production at South African mining giant Anglo American Platinum yesterday, following violence which erupted earlier this week.

Employees in the Rustenberg and Pilanesburg areas went on strike, effectively suspending mining operations at all of Amplats’ mines in South Africa yesterday.

A spokeswoman for the beleaguered platinum miner confirmed that the employees would return to work this morning.

Earlier this week, 12 Amplats employees were injured at Amplats’ Siphumelele mine in the Rustenberg region, 70 miles north-west of Johannesburg, when rubber bullets were fired at employees by security personnel following a clash between unions.

The work stoppage yesterday is thought to be in response to the earlier incident.

More than 50 people were killed in labour strife last year, including 34 shot dead by police at Lonmin’s Marikana mine in August – the deadliest single security incident in South Africa since apartheid ended in the 1990s.

Amplats, which is 80 per cent owned by its parent Anglo American, reported its first ever annual loss earlier this month as it was battered by weeks of violent strikes, soaring costs and softening platinum prices.

The unrest last summer cost the firm 306,000 ounces of platinum, reducing full-year output by eight per cent to 2.2m ounces.

Amplats, whose majority share-holder is Anglo American, recently unveiled a radical overhaul of its operations, which could see up to 14,000 jobs cut from South Africa and the closure of several of its mines.