Impala Platinum Shaft Halted as About 3,000 Workers Go on Strike

Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd., the world’s second-biggest producer of the metal, said about 3,000 workers started an unauthorized strike after an employee was dismissed from one of its South African mines yesterday.

Workers didn’t report for duty at shaft No. 14 in Rustenburg, northwest of Johannesburg, Bob Gilmour, a spokesman for the company, said by phone. “They are protesting the disciplinary action,” he said.

Spokespeople for the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, which represents more than 50 percent of employees at Impala, didn’t answer calls. The National Union of Mineworkers didn’t know about the strike, spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said by phone.

Impala last year fired 17,200 workers for participating in in a six-week stoppage that halted output from the world’s biggest platinum mine. The company later reinstated most of the employees. A round of mining strikes in recent months fueled by labor-union rivalry has threatened a turnaround in the continent’s largest economy, which grew at the slowest pace since a 2009 recession in the first quarter.

Producers in South Africa are struggling with higher costs as demand wanes, prompting companies including Anglo American Platinum Ltd., the world’s largest miner of the metal, to consider cutting back operations and fire workers.

More of Impala’s shafts are producing at a loss as prices decline and costs rise, it said on May 2. The company is assessing the operations to determine their viability, it said.

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