Impala Platinum Says 2,000 Workers on Strike at Marula Mine

Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd., the second-biggest producer of the metal, said about 2,000 workers started an illegal strike yesterday at its Marula mine in South Africa less than two weeks after the end of a five-month walkout that crippled the economy.

“The unions aren’t supporting the work stoppage,” Johan Theron, a spokesman for Johannesburg-based Impala, said today by phone. “We are not sure what it is about. It seems to be related to unhappiness over the two-year wage deal that was implemented last year. What is very important now is for the unions to talk to their members.”

The strike follows a five-month stoppage by at least 70,000 workers at other mines owned by Impala and shafts operated by Anglo American Platinum Ltd. and Lonmin Plc. It ended on June 24 when the companies signed a wage deal with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, or Amcu.

The National Union of Mineworkers is the majority union at Marula, which produces 70,000 to 80,000 ounces of platinum annually in the Limpopo province. Its operations were unaffected by the previous strike, Theron said.

Livhuwani Mammburu, a spokesman for the National Union of Mineworkers, said Amcu was behind the Marula strike and its members were demanding the same compensation as workers at Impala’s other mines.

“NUM is not on strike on that mine,” he said by phone from Johannesburg. “Our members were stopped from going to work by the union that is on strike.”

AMCU treasurer Jimmy Gama and administrative manager Esther Mabena did not answer calls to their mobile phones. South Africa’s economy contracted 0.6 percent in the first quarter after the platinum strike hurt production.