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Impala Workers to End Stoppage at Biggest Platinum Mine

Feb. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. may restart the world’s biggest platinum mine next week after employees agreed to return to work, ending a four-week stoppage that cut global supplies by more than 100,000 ounces.

“It was agreed to call an end to the illegal work stoppage,” Johannesburg-based Impala said in an e-mailed statement today after meeting with the National Union of Mineworkers and a delegation of rock-drill operators. “We hope to start ramping up production from Monday,” it said. Platinum pared earlier gains in London.

The stoppage cut global supplies of the the metal, used in cars and jewelry, by 3,000 ounces daily, costing Impala more than 2 billion rand ($270 million) of revenue. Mines restart gradually after a stoppage and take time to revert to full production. Impala’s Rustenburg mine produces about 12 percent of global output of the metal.

Impala, the world’s second-largest platinum supplier, warned customers last week that April deliveries may be half the usual volumes.

Impala gained 2 percent to 167.10 rand at the 5 p.m. close in Johannesburg. Platinum traded at $1,722.25 an ounce as of 5:30 p.m. compared with $1,737.25 earlier.

Operations Halted

About 5,000 rock-drill operators walked out last month after they didn’t get a pay increase awarded to miners, disrupting production. More mineworkers then didn’t report for duty on Jan. 30, bringing the operation to a complete halt and boosting global prices for the metal used in cars and jewelry.

Four were killed and at least 50 hurt in violent protests and attacks on employees who continued to go to work. About 11,600 miners and 4,200 processing and services employees didn’t participate in the work stoppage.

Of the 17,200 workers the company dismissed for striking illegally, 13,500 had reapplied for jobs so far, including 3,000 rock-drill operators, Impala said today.

Impala will need to follow a careful startup process to ensure it can get the mine going again safely, and this will take some time, Theron said, adding the company won’t compromise safety “to rush back into production.”

Impala said Feb. 25 that workers applying for jobs after today won’t be reinstated and therefore won’t receive their former conditions and benefits. They would be employed as new employees.

To contact the reporters on this story: Tshepiso Mokhema in Johannesburg at tmokhema@bloomberg.net; Carli Cooke in Johannesburg at clourens@bloomberg.net

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

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