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S. African Producers, Union to Meet Mediator Separately in Platinum Strike

FILE - Miners chant slogans as they march past the Lonmin mine during the one-year anniversary commemorations to mark the killings of 34 striking platinum miners shot dead by police outside the Marikana platinum mine in Rustenburg, South Africa on Aug. 16, 2013.
The world's top platinum producers and the AMCU union will hold separate meetings with a South African state mediator this week to discuss a stoppage over wages but, no talks are scheduled between the companies and the union.

Members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) downed tools over two weeks ago at Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin after wage talks failed, and the prospect of a resolution looks distant without the companies and union coming together.

Hitting over 40 percent of global output of the precious metal, the strike is stoking tensions on South Africa's platinum belt and an AMCU shop steward was killed on Friday in a clash with police.

The state mediator said in a statement on Monday afternoon that it would meet with AMCU on Thursday and follow up with the producers on Friday.

Earlier the companies had said they would be meeting on Thursday.

The strike and the growing uncertainty over how to bring it to an end have undermined investor confidence in Africa's largest economy at a time when the rand currency has traded near five-year lows.

The stoppages are costing the country an estimated $36 million a day and are an unwelcome distraction for President Jacob Zuma and the ruling African National Congress three months ahead of general elections.

AMCU wants a more than doubling of basic pay to 12,500 rand ($1,100) a month, which companies say they can ill afford as they grapple with soaring costs and depressed global demand for the metal used for emissions-capping catalytic converters in vehicles.

The companies have offered wage hikes of up to 9 percent, which they say are fair given an inflation rate of 5.4 percent.