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Northam to Meet Union as South Africa Strike Nears Fifth Week

Nov. 29 (Bloomberg) -- The largest union at Northam Platinum Ltd., owner of the deepest mine for the metal, said it would would meet management for talks as revenue losses in an almost four-week pay strike near 400 million rand ($39 million).

South Africa’s Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration will facilitate a meeting between the company and the National Union of Mineworkers to end an impasse over wages that culminated in almost 7,000 employees going on strike from Nov. 3 at the Zondereinde mine, Ecliff Tantsi, the NUM’s chief negotiator at Northam, said today by phone.

“It’s quite difficult to get a sense of how much Northam has lost” in earnings, Justin Froneman, an analyst at SBG Securities Ltd. in Johannesburg, said by phone. “We know they’re getting close to 400 million rand in revenue, but at the same time taken bottom-line costs out,” Froneman said, referring to unpaid wages.

The NUM, which represents about 80 percent of employees at the mine, has demanded an average pay increase of 61 percent. The outcome of the Northam strike will set a precedent for wage talks at larger producers, including Anglo American Platinum Ltd., according to Investec Plc and Stanlib Asset Management. The companies mine most of their metal in South Africa, which has the world’s largest known reserves of platinum.

Northam offered pay increases of 8 percent to 9 percent to end a strike that was costing the company about 14 million rand in lost revenue daily, it said Nov. 25.

Northam spokesmen weren’t immediately available for comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andre Janse van Vuuren in Johannesburg at ajansevanvuu@bloomberg.net

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

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