News / Africa

S. Africa Platinum Strike Talks to Resume Friday

FILE - A miner gestures as they gather at Wonderkop stadium outside the Lonmin mine in Rustenburg, northwest of Johannesburg, Jan. 30, 2014.
FILE - A miner gestures as they gather at Wonderkop stadium outside the Lonmin mine in Rustenburg, northwest of Johannesburg, Jan. 30, 2014.
Reuters
Talks between the world's top three platinum producers and South Africa's striking AMCU union will resume on Friday in an effort to end a five-week stoppage over wages, the chief executive of Impala Platinum (Implats) said.
 
The industrial action has taken out more than 40 percent of global output of the precious metal used to make catalytic converters for automobiles and threatens to derail the sector's recovery after damaging wildcat strikes in 2012.
 
Implats, the world's second-largest producer behind Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), reported an 11 percent rise in half-year profit on Thursday.
 
However, the latest strike in the heart of South Africa's platinum belt, northwest of Johannesburg, is costing the company 2,800 ounces a day in lost production and 60 million rand ($5.5 millon) a day in revenue.
 
CEO Terence Goodlace told reporters on Thursday that he had recently spoken directly with Joseph Mathunjwa, the president of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), members of which have also downed tools at Amplats and Lonmin .
 
That the two sides are talking at the top level signals a renewed drive to end the stoppage, though the companies and AMCU remain poles apart on the issue of wages. Goodlace reiterated that demands for a more than doubling of basic wages to 12,500 rand a month are “absolutely unobtainable”.
 
The producers have offered increases of up to 9 percent.
 
No dividend
 
Implats reported headline earnings per share up 10.8 percent to 860 million rand ($79.5 million), or 142 cents per share, in the six months to Dec. 31.
 
It said that lower metal prices over the period “were more than offset by the weaker average rand-dollar exchange rate, which benefits South African mining companies that price their commodity in dollars.
 
The company's Zimbabwe unit, Zimplats, has been a bright spot, with platinum sales for the period rising more than 63 percent to 115,800 ounces.
 
Implats, however, cannot avoid the shadow cast by the wage dispute at its key Rustenburg operations.
 
“Given the current industrial relations climate and as part of the group's cash preservation measures, the board has decided not to declare an interim dividend,” Implats said.
 
Goodlace said the stoppage is a blow to the company's recovery efforts. “It does stunt what we achieved,” he acknowledged, adding that it will take time to reboot operations once a resolution is found.
 
During a subsequent presentation he said it could take “one or two months” to restore production to pre-strike levels because workers would have to be retrained and many steps, including safety procedures, would need to be taken.
 
The strike has been marred by violence, though not on the scale of 2012, when dozens of people were killed.
 
The poisonous atmosphere was underscored by a police statement on Wednesday that said two AMCU members have been charged with attempted murder in relation to an attack on a non-striking employee at Amplats' Khuseleka shaft when he arrived for work on Feb. 3.
 
The union members are alleged to have stripped the Amplats employee before taking him to a dumping site where he was assaulted with stones, the police statement said.

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs