World’s biggest platinum miner stops S Africa work amid unrest

World’s biggest platinum miner stops S Africa work amid unrest

RUSTENBURG, South Africa - Agence France-Presse
World’s biggest platinum miner stops S Africa work amid unrest

Anglo American Platinum mine workers leave the Bathopele mine after a strike was called in Rustenburg. The company has announced that it has suspended platinum operations in order to protect its employees amid ongoing labor unrest. AFP photo

The world’s top platinum producer Anglo American shut down its main South African operations on Sept. 12 as fears rose that widening strikes are spiraling into an industry revolt.

The latest unrest broke out on roads leading to Anglo American which halted work at its Rustenburg mines in the same region as the London-listed Lonmin plant where 45 people have died in a strike that started last month. “We have taken this decision to suspend our operations in order to help ensure the safety of our employees, our absolute priority,” said Cynthia Carroll, chairperson of Anglo American Platinum (Amplats).

Call for mining change

“Our people want to work and it is unacceptable that they are not able to go to work safely and instead are facing considerable intimidation.” South Africa’s key mining sector, which contributes around a fifth of the country’s GDP, has been hit by a wave of increasingly militant strikes that have spilled from the world’s richest platinum mines into the gold sector. Tensions have been inflamed by maverick former youth leader Julius Malema who has been visiting strife-hit mines and calling for operations to be made ungovernable and for widespread strike action.

“We are calling for mining change. We want the mines nationalized,” he told Radio Talk Radio 702. “Now we want to show them that we mean business. We are going to be engaging in peaceful yet radical and militant action that will hit straight into the pockets of white monopoly capital.”