Aquarius Platinum and Xstrata halt operations in S.Africa

Aquarium Platinum (LON,ASX, JSE:AQP) and Xstrata (LON:XTA) are the latest casualties of the ongoing labour unrest in South Africa. Both companies announced Friday they have suspended operations, as police swooped on striking protesters.

"Aquarius Platinum Limited advises that the company had decided to temporarily suspend mining operations at the Kroondal Platinum Mine," said the company in a statement.

"The decision to suspend mining operations has been taken to ensure the safety and security of employees and assets given the rising tensions and protests within the regional workforce and communities."

Reuters is reporting that Xstrata had shut its chrome mine near Rustenburg for the day.

The South African government hardened its stance on Friday as platinum miners rejected Lonmin's wage increase offer.

Tired of the escalating national chaos in its mining sector, the authorities announced a sweeping crackdown on weapons and “illegal gatherings.” Although it is not clear whether South Africa’s government will deploy the army or arrest key political opponents, such as Julius Malema, local media say a measure is imminent.