Anglo American iron ore unit fires striking miners

Anglo America's (NYSE:AAL) Kumba Iron Ore announced on Monday that it had fired almost 300 workers in South Africa for participating in an illegal strike and commandeering millions in company equipment.

According to a company statement the strikers have occupied the mine since 3 October, and have refused to heed an ultimatum to leave the mine on Monday morning and submit to disciplinary hearings.

Criminal charges have also been laid against the fired strikers.

AFP reports that the miners occupying Kumba's Shishen mine in South Africa's Northern Cape had seized equipment worth 3.3 billion rand (USD$375 million), including 88 trucks and 13 other pieces of equipment, which they had threatened to destroy unless their remuneration demands were met.

A labour court has ordered the strikers to leave the mine on Monday and release the equipment, as well as given police a mandate to remove the workers in the case of refusal.

Sishen is one of the world's largest open-pit mines as well as Kumba Iron Ore's flagship development project.

The mass firing is merely the latest incident in a wave of strikes which have afflicted both Anglo American's South African operations and South Africa's mining sector in general.

Last week Anglo American reported losses to revenue of $126 million arising from wild cat strikes at the company's sprawling Rustenburg mine which have continued for four weeks.