Managers, unions and workers at the troubled platinum miner Lonmin's (LON:JSE) Marikana mine, started talks with South African government mediators on Wednesday as thousands of miners continued a strike that has left 44 dead.
Only 7.7% of the mine's 28,000 employees showed up for work on Wednesday, almost as low as Tuesday’s 8% turnout.
The Marikana complex has been effectively halted for more than two weeks due to the strike and the fatal incidents that cost the life of workers, policemen and guards. The most shocking violence occurred on Thursday last week when police shot and killed 34 workers.
The situation on the ground was "still peaceful,” Lonmin spokeswoman Sue Vey was quoted as saying by AFP. "I don't expect everyone to work today."
She added today’s talks are a bid to reach a "peace accord" to stop the unrest at the mine and pave the way for negotiations to end the strike that began on August 10.
However, the productivity levels of the mine are unclear. The company says it is attempting to work on a resolution with the remaining miners. South Africa's Department of Labour is also involved and trying to settle the dispute.
Workers, who claim they earn about $475 ($4,000 rand) a month, are demanding a raise to $1,490 (12,500 rand). The London-based platinum company says the workers already earn around $1,200 ($10,000 rand) when bonuses and other compensation are included.
Lonmin’s shares have plunged to the lowest price since 2008, fueled by the dispute and the unexpected loss posted, higher wage and power costs and a worldwide surplus of platinum.
Spot prices for platinum have increased 9% since Aug. 15 as violence idled about a fifth of the world’s platinum- output capacity. Earlier, prices were down 23% in a year as demand slowed for the metal.