World’s largest platinum mine to remain shut for months on S. Africa strike

World’s largest platinum mine to remain shut for months on S. Africa strike

The bitter dispute has recently turned more violent with a number of reported deaths as striking union members prevent others from returning to work. (Image from archives)

The world’s largest platinum mine will stay closed until at the second half of the year, if not longer, even if a 16-week strike at most South African operations ends soon, operator Impala Platinum (LON:IPLA), (JSE:IMP) warned Friday.

The company, which is the world’s second largest producer of the precious metal, described the levels of violence and intimidation its employees have endured this far as "devastating."

Delivering its third-quarter production results, the miner said employees should be allowed to return to work while its management and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) try finding a viable solution.

Implats has lost about 246,000 ounces of production of the metal since the strike started, equivalent to revenue of 5.4 billion rand, while employees forfeited 1.4 billion rand in wages, Chief Executive Officer Terence Goodlace said in a statement.

The bitter dispute has recently turned more violent with a number of reported deaths as striking union members prevent others from returning to work and reports of police in armoured vehicles patrolling residential areas surrounding some of the mines.

The militant union is suing producers in South Africa's labour court because the companies took their latest offer directly to workers.

According to a website set up by producers the companies' have lost combined revenue of over $1.6 billion (R17.8 billion) while striking miners have lost nearly $800 million in forfeited wages.