February 22, 2011 By

South African Police Disperses 3,000 miners

6_1The South African police, on Tuesday, used stun grenades and rubber bullets to disperse a mass of three thousand violent miners. The demonstrators “carrying dangerous weapons, such as knobkerries and sticks, blocked the road and were threatening to remove non-striking workers at the shaft,” said the police. The incident took place at Anglo American Platinum’s Khuseleka 1 facility in the North western part of South Africa.

It is the first major conflict with dozens of workers killed by the rival unions and the police and is now in its second week. Two protestors aged 52 and 47 were arrested and charged with public violence. Around 80,000 members of the radical Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) put down their tools on January 23 calling for a minimum monthly wage of 12,500-rand ($1,100), almost double their current pay. Last Thursday, the union rejected a three-year deal from Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin that offered a roughly seven percent annual increase. AMCU threatened that the strike would go on for a month if no agreement was reached.

“The wage increases demanded by AMCU are unaffordable by industry and will push more of industry into loss-making territory,” said South African Chamber of Mines economist Roger Baxter. The strikes are costing Africa’s largest economy $36 million a day in lost production, he told a continental mining conference in Cape Town. The Mining Minister Susan Shabangu said in a statement that peace and stability had been restored adding that the “developments debunk the myth that labor laws in South Africa lack flexibility and are only created to protect workers”.

The Khuseleka mine is a large open pit mine located in Rustenburg. It represents one of the largest platinum reserves in South Africa having estimated reserves of 10.2 million oz. of platinum.

Posted in: Uncategorized