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Streik der Bergarbeiter in der weltgrößten Platinmine in Südafrika – Entlassungen wegen des Streiks – Einsatz des Militärs gegen die Streikenden – angeblich Gewalt der Arbeiter – 80 Prozent des weltweiten Platins liegt in Südafrika – Verwendung u.a. in der Autoindustrie

Februar 16, 2012

Streik an weltgrößter Platinmine eskaliert
16. Februar 2012 19:21
Polizei ging mit Gummigeschossen, Tränengas und Wasserwerfern vor

Rustenburg – In Südafrika eskaliert ein Streik an der weltgrößten Platinmine. Am Donnerstag ging die Polizei mit Gummigeschossen, Tränengas und Wasserwerfern gegen randalierende Arbeiter vor. Unterstützt durch gepanzerte Fahrzeuge und zwei Hubschrauber rückten mindestens 50 Beamte in ein Armenviertel nahe der Mine in Rustenburg ein, in dem Streikende zuvor Feuer gelegt hatten. Bis zu 5000 Minenarbeiter blockierten nach Angaben der Polizei die Zufahrtsstraße zur Mine, in der rund 15 Prozent des weltweiten Bedarfs produziert werden. Die Polizisten seien mit Steinen beworfen worden. Seit Ausbruch des Streiks im vergangenen Monat ist der Preis für das auch im Autobau eingesetzte Material bereits um sieben Prozent geklettert.

Nach Polizeiangaben kam es während einer Demonstration in der Nacht zu einem Lynchmord an einem Mann. Die Polizei nahm acht Demonstranten fest. Der Minenbetreiber Impala Platinum hatte nach einem wilden Streik wegen umstrittener Bonuszahlungen 17.000 Mitarbeiter entlassen, davon aber 6000 später wieder auf die Gehaltslisten gesetzt.

In Südafrika liegen rund 80 Prozent der Platin-Vorkommen. In kaum einem anderen Land ist die Arbeit in den Minen so gefährlich, weshalb die Arbeiter auf eine bessere Bezahlung dringen. (APA)

Impala Platinum, the world’s number two producer, on Thursday fired 13,000 miners who went on an illegal strike in South Africa, the company said in a statement.

„Approximately 13,000 mining employees who participated in the illegal work stoppage at Impala Rustenburg… have been dismissed,“ parent company Implats said.

Miners downed tools on Monday demanding higher wages, grounding operations to a halt. Workers had been given until Wednesday to return to the job, the statement added.

Over the past month, the Johannesburg-based company has sacked a total of about 17,200 workers at its mine in the northwestern town of Rustenburg — more than half of the 30,000 people employed in the town.

„There is no production at the mine,“ Implats spokeswoman Alice Lourens told AFP on Thursday.

„It’s costing us in the region of 3,000 ounces of platinum a day.“

Impala secured a court interdict against the strike and said it would fire those who still refused to work.

The company said it would rehire miners who wanted to reapply for work. Lourens could not say when this would start.

„We’re still busy with the dismissal process,“ she said.

The company did not fear litigation because of the layoffs.

„It was an illegal strike because we were granted an interdict by the Labour Court,“ said Lourens.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on Wednesday accused Impala of breaking its promises to negotiate further on issues beyond the salary dispute.

Miners went on strike when some workers received an 18 percent salary increase, but certain categories of labour were excluded, said NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka.

Impala produced 941,200 ounces of platinum in the financial year which ended June 2011. It is Implats‘ biggest platinum operation.

The company as a whole produced 1.84 million ounces in the previous financial year.

South Africa Sends Army to End Violence at World’s Largest Platinum Mine
By Carli Cooke – Feb 16, 2012 5:40 PM GMT+0100
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South Africa sent troops to end rioting at the world’s largest platinum mine after owner Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. (IMP) asked for government help to stop violence stemming from an illegal strike that has halted output.

Protesters set fire to cars overnight, barricading the main road to Sun City, a resort within the platinum-producing region near Rustenburg, Impala Chief Executive Officer David Brown said today. The police presence at the mine has been inadequate, failing to end attacks and intimidation and prompting a request to the Security Minister to intervene, he said.

While strikes aren’t rare in South Africa, and can be violent at times, it’s unusual for the military to be involved, Wayne McCurrie, a fund manager at Johannesburg-based RMB Asset Management, said by phone today. “That’s reminiscent of the 1980s” when the apartheid system imposed by the then minority white government was still in place, he said.

Impala last week fired 17,200 workers at the mine, which accounts for about 12 percent of global production of platinum, used in jewelry and cars. The disruption has caused lost output of 60,000 ounces worth about 1.2 billion rand ($153 million) as of Feb. 14, Brown told reporters on a conference call. The mine came to a halt Jan. 30 and it may take a further three or four weeks to restore operations, curbing global supplies, he said.

Impala fell 4 percent to 158.15 rand by the close in Johannesburg, the lowest in more than two years. The six-member FTSE/JSE Africa Platinum Mining Index (JPLAT) dropped 3.1 percent.
Looting, Intimidation

South African National Defence force members arrived at the mine today, National Union of Mineworkers’ regional manager Vuyani Sydwell Dolokwana said from the site. The military joined police outside the Impala mine to try and stop protesters looting, blocking roads and intimidating those who want to return to work, Dolokwana said.

Impala will continue talks with the NUM, the only union recognized at the mine, to try to resolve the dispute, Brown said. An illegal strike by about 5,000 rock-drill operators over pay last month prompted a wider stoppage.

The situation has “political undertones” and also stems from inter-union rivalry, Brown said. The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union is trying to gain members at the site, he said.

The AMCU didn’t cause the violence, General Secretary Jeff Mphahlele said in an interview today. While AMCU didn’t call the strike, it has recruited a “large percentage” of Impala workers in Rustenburg, he said. “People are sick and tired of NUM,” he said.
Platinum Target

NUM is the country’s largest labor grouping and represents most of South Africa’s mineworkers. It’s an affiliate of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, a member of the African National Congress-led ruling alliance since 1994. The ANC is due to hold leadership elections in December.

The mine, which accounts for half of Impala’s total production and about two-thirds of its profit, probably won’t make its target of producing 915,000 to 920,000 ounces this year, Brown said. Impala produces about 25 percent of global platinum output, mostly in South Africa, the nation with the world’s largest reserves.

Impala has rehired 6,000 workers, allowing operations to “tentatively restart” in certain areas, Brown said. “I’d say another three to four weeks would probably give us an indication of trying to get everyone back to work and getting people up and running,” he said.
Impala’s Profit

Impala’s first-half production fell 21 percent to 356,000 ounces of refined platinum after volumes from third parties declined 48 percent, the company said today in a statement. Large producers such as Impala buy concentrate from other companies to add to smelters. The company also smelts the material on behalf of other operators for a fee.

Impala also lost about 33,000 ounces through an increase in government-ordered safety stops.

Still, adjusted earnings climbed 67 percent to 5.73 rand a share in the six months through December, the company said. The mean estimate of five analysts surveyed by Bloomberg was for adjusted earnings of 5.35 rand a share.

While the average dollar platinum price increased 1.7 percent to $1,654.33 an ounce in the six-month period, the rand price of the metal advanced 8.5 percent as the local currency depreciated.

Platinum may trade at $1,450 to $1,800 an ounce in the next year while palladium may trade at $600 to $850 an ounce, Marketing Executive Derek Engelbrecht said in Johannesburg today. There may be a 335,000-ounce platinum deficit and a 980,000-ounce palladium shortage this year, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Carli Cooke nee Lourens in Johannesburg at

From → Südafrika, Streik

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