Lanxess Says Seven Hurt in Clashes at South African Chrome Mine

Seven people were injured in clashes between workers and security personnel at Lanxess AG (LXS)’s chrome unit in South Africa today amid a wildcat strike over pay.

Security guards shot at employees with rubber bullets, hitting two, Sibonile Dube, a Johannesburg-based spokeswoman for the company, said in an e-mail. Two guards were hit by stones thrown by the workers who have been on a wildcat strike since May 16, she said. Three other employees were hurt.

“Our security guards were acting in self-defense as the strikers started throwing stones at them,” Dube said.

Mining companies in South Africa, which has the world’s biggest known reserves of chrome and platinum, are bracing for wage talks, with one union demanding increases of as much as 61 percent. The local chrome operation of Lanxess, a Leverkusen, Germany-based synthetic rubber maker and chemicals company, is in Rustenburg, where platinum producers are contending with union rivalry and where at least 46 people were killed in unrest last year.

About 470 workers at Lanxess’s local unit started an unprotected strike last week, demanding annual performance-related payments in addition to an existing wage agreement.

Employees in South Africa may strike legally, with their jobs protected, if an independent mediator agrees to a stoppage and after talks between unions and companies fail.

More than 15 Lanxess South Africa workers were shot at the mine, Johannesburg-based SAFM radio reported, without saying where it got the information.

To contact the reporter on this story: Paul Burkhardt in Johannesburg at pburkhardt@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Viljoen at jviljoen@bloomberg.net

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