Anglo Unit Shuts Iron-Ore Mine as Gold One Suspends Workers

Anglo American Plc’s Kumba Iron Ore unit shut output at its Sishen mine in South Africa after striking workers blocked access to a pit and Gold One International Ltd. suspended employees who walked off the job.

Kumba stopped output late yesterday at the mine, Africa’s biggest iron-ore operation, where 300 employees went on strike, the company said in a statement. The mine has obtained a court order declaring the strike illegal and worker demands “are still not clear,” Kumba said.

A “large number” of Gold One’s Ezulwini workers didn’t report for work on Oct. 1 even after the Labour Court issued an order against the illegal strike, the Johannesburg-based company said today. They’re demanding pay increases of as much as four times the inflation rate, which was 5 percent in August.

“We are therefore without any option but to suspend these striking employees,” Gold One said.

The shuttered production of iron ore adds to outages at mines owned by Africa’s three largest gold producers and the world’s biggest platinum producer, Anglo American Platinum Ltd. A trucking strike has delayed deliveries of goods including motor fuels as drivers protest for more pay.

Unofficial strikes have spread across South Africa’s mining industry since a stoppage that began Aug. 10 at Lonmin Plc resulted in pay increases of as much as 22 percent. The dispute saw 46 people killed, including 34 shot by police.

Platinum Impact

Strikes in South Africa, producer of three-quarters of global platinum output, helped boost prices of the metal 22 percent since Aug. 1, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Platinum rose 1.3 percent to $1,709.38 an ounce by 5:34 p.m. in London.

Long-term investors are divesting from South Africa gold stocks because of the strikes, Johannesburg-based Business Day reported, citing Gold Fields Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Nick Holland.

In addition to workers on strike at Pretoria-based Kumba, Anglo American Platinum’s Rustenburg and Union mine complexes are on strike. All of AngloGold Ashanti Ltd.’s South African mines are closed, as well as Gold Fields Ltd’s KDC West and Beatrix mines. Together the gold mines account for about two-fifths of the nation’s production of the precious metal.

Court Order

Protesters blocked the entrance to Harmony Gold Mining Co.’s Kusasalethu mine with burning tires this week. Today, the company got a court order declaring the strike by 5,400 workers at the mine unprotected, spokeswoman Marian van der Walt said by phone. Kusasalethu accounts for 14 percent of Harmony’s output, producing 20 kilograms to 25 kilograms of gold daily, she said.

Workers are making demands directly to management and through labor unions. The Chamber of Mines, representing large mining companies, and the National Union of Mineworkers met yesterday to discuss workers’ grievances. They will meet again on Oct. 9, NUM said in a statement.

Security was tightened near Amplats’s Khuseleka mine after roads were barricaded with rocks and burning tires, and a hawker’s store was set alight during violent protests linked to the strike, the South African Press Association reported. Amplats declined to respond to a request for comment.

Trucks were torched and traffic was blocked yesterday when a legal strike by more than 20,000 drivers spread from Johannesburg to other provinces. Near George, in the south of the country, a truck was hijacked and set alight, SAPA reported, citing police.

The strike cut supplies to fuel stations, MC Lamprecht, chairman of the 900-member South African Petroleum Retailers’ Association, said on Oct. 2. He didn’t immediately respond to two messages on his mobile phone today.

“The impact of the truck strike on the South African wholesale and retail industry is being felt,” the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.

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