Anglo’s Kleinkopje coal miners in South Africa back to work, but fear of new strikes persists

Miners at Anglo American’s (LON:AAL) Kleinkopje coal mine in South Africa have come back to work after a wildcat walk-out started on Tuesday, reports local media.

The strike at Anglo followed illegal labour actions at five mines owned by Exxaro Resources, South Africa’s second-biggest coal producer, which have further alarmed investors witnessing what seems to be a repeat of protests which shook Africa's biggest economy last year.

The coal sector mostly escaped the wave of violent illegal strikes last year across the gold and platinum industries. Labour unrest cost companies millions in lost production and hurt South Africa’s growth for the year.

The situation has severely damaged the country’s image as an investment destination, to the point experts such as Ursula van Eck, mining head of business advisory firm BDO, recommend going somewhere else in Africa. 

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Van Eck sees a number of challenges for investors in South Africa this year, including global downward pressure on commodity prices, the potential classification of coal as a strategic mineral, nationalization of mining, fallout from labour disputes, and uncertainty about the introduction of a super-tax on mining companies.

According to her, companies do not need to go too far, as there are plenty of opportunities on the same continent, where more investor-friendly conditions prevail.

“For foreign investors and South African companies willing to take the risk and try something new, going up into Africa could provide the growth opportunities that are currently lacking locally,” van Eck said in January.