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Are the South African Platinum Mine Strikes Nearing an End?

The South African mining industry has shed more than 340,000 jobs since 1990.
The South African mining industry has shed more than 340,000 jobs since 1990.
Photo by Christopher Furlong

This year we have seen palladium prices soar as mine strikes and the tensions between Ukraine and Russia have threatened supply. The area in which these mine strikes are occurring – the so-called “platinum belt” – is located in South Africa, the largest producer of platinum in the world. The strike, which began on January 23 of this year (making it 13 weeks long as of today), has been the longest mine strike in South African history.

In the latest development, platinum producers said they would make their latest wage offer directly to employees after previous wage talks crumbled last Thursday. The offer comes from the world’s top three producers of platinum: Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum, and Lonmin. The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) is not happy with the offers made so far.

AMCU’s treasurer Jimmy Gama told City Press "We can't predict if our members will reject it," while AMCU member Venter Mulutsi told Reuters "The guys do not want to go back to work, not for this money."

Despite this sentiment among the striking miners, the platinum producers are betting on the strikers losing their stamina and going back to work after feeling the blow of three straight months without pay.