Thousands of workers belonging to the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) have walked off the job since Sunday, the union said, demanding equal benefits for all workers under a proposed share ownership scheme.
The news came as Xstrata posted record third quarter thermal coal output yesterday as it recovered from weather-related setbacks at the start of the year.
The company reported quarterly thermal-coal output of 20m tonnes, its highest ever, compared with 18.5m tonnes the same period a year earlier.
But Xstrata’s mined copper output dropped to 223,606 tonnes in the quarter from 233,647 tonnes after production was hit by lower grades, repairs and blizzard conditions at its Collahuasi mine in Chile.
Copper generated the most profit for Xstrata, with coal ranking second.
The miner said it settled annual thermal coal contracts with long-term Japanese customers at $126.5 per tonne from $129.85 a tonne in April, exceeding analyst expectations.
Xstrata fell by 1.33 per cent to 936.40p last night after mining stocks were hit by weaker-than-expected figures on China’s third-quarter growth.