South African President Jacob Zuma pledged to take steps to restore stability at the country’s mines, following a series of illegal strikes that have halted production at shafts owned by Lonmin Plc, Gold Fields Ltd. and Anglo American Platinum Ltd.
“I have engaged with the ministers concerned to look at how we deal with this issue, and very, very soon we will be able to let the public know,” Zuma told lawmakers in Cape Town today. “We are going to be acting very soon.”
At least 45 people have been killed since Aug. 10 at Lonmin’s Marikana mine in the North West Province, following an illegal work stoppage by rock drillers, and almost 28,000 workers there remain on strike. About 15,000 workers at Gold Fields Ltd.’s KDC West mine have also downed tools, while labor unrest has halted Anglo American Platinum’s Rustenburg operations.
“Worker demands for better wages can and should be addressed within the country’s labor relations framework,” Zuma said. “The illegal strikes, the incitement and intimidation will not assist workers. Instead, it will make them and the country worse off.”
Anglo, Impala and Lonmin account for more than half of global platinum production. Prices for the metal have gained 18 percent since the Marikana strike started Aug. 10. Platinum traded at $1,657.99 as of 2:28 p.m. in London.
Zuma criticized London-based Lonmin’s treatment of its workers, saying it had not done enough to improve their living conditions and provide them with decent housing.
“Conditions in the mines have been terrible all the time,” he said. “We cannot stop criticizing companies who have money. You could stand and criticize Lonmin, because the progress that is there is not as in other mines. We have a right to criticize Lonmin.”