Northam Asks Mineworkers Back After Two Employees Killed

  • Calm restored at platinum mine in South Africa, company says
  • Both workers killed were members of NUM union, Northam says

Northam Platinum Ltd. has asked employees to report for duty at its Zondereinde mine in South Africa after the company suspended some operations when two workers were killed in as many days.

Underground operations were halted when an employee was shot dead in the town of Northam on Sunday and another killed June 6 near the mine, the Johannesburg-based company said in an e-mailed statement on Tuesday. “We urge all parties to exercise leadership following these tragic incidents, in the interests of safety for all,” Chief Executive Officer Paul Dunne said.

The Chamber of Mines, a lobby group for producers, said there is “no firm evidence” that the incidents stemmed from union rivalry. Both of the people killed were members of the National Union of Mineworkers, according to company records, Charmane Russell, a spokeswoman for the chamber, said in an e-mailed response to questions. The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union said one of its members was killed in an attack on Monday.

The NUM rejected the call for workers to return to the mine.

“We are highly disturbed that while we are in a meeting Northam goes behind our backs sending workers” messages to report for duty, the union said on its Twitter account.

Zondereinde, the world’s deepest platinum mine, produces about 1,000 ounces daily, Dunne said in an interview on SAfm radio Tuesday. As recently as four years ago, the NUM was the biggest union in South Africa’s mining industry. It has lost ground to the AMCU, which became the largest representative of platinum workers and led its members on a five-month strike that crippled the operations of the world’s three biggest producers in 2014.

Talks to reach a conclusion over the impasse continue, Northam said.

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