12,000 miners fired in South Africa

Oct. 5, 2012 at 3:59 PM
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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Oct. 5 (UPI) -- Anglo American Platinum, the world's biggest platinum producer, said it has fired 12,000 striking South African miners in a wage dispute.

The company said three weeks of illegal strikes have cost it 39,000 ounces in output, worth 700 million rand ($82.3 million), the BBC reported Friday.

Tensions rose Friday after a man was found dead outside a miners' camp near Anglo American Platinum's mines in Rustenburg, South Africa, The Wall Street Journal said, and 34 platinum miners at the Lonmin PLC's Marikana plant were killed in a clash with police in August. Lonmin eventually settled the strike by offering workers pay increases of as much as 22 percent.

Separately, precious metals producers and union leaders next week will begin work on ending strikes that shut down much of South Africa's mining industry, the mining union said.

In a statement Thursday, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, the National Union of Mineworkers, the Chamber of Mines industry group, and executive officers of Gold Fields and AngloGold Ashanti said they had agreed to a framework for discussions over wages, with the hope of concluding talks by the end of the month, the Journal reported.

"We have a commitment to review the appropriate entry level wages," the joint statement said. "We will be guided by the difficult competitive position of the gold mining industry, including ... the need to ensure sustainability and jobs retention."

Chamber of Mines data indicated nearly 25 percent of South Africa's miners were on strike this week.

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