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Angloplat workers strike

The unrest at SA mines has now hit top world platinum producer Anglo American Platinum.

Anglo miners demonstrate over wages. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Labour unrest sweeping across South Africa's mining sector hit top world platinum producer Anglo American Platinum on Wednesday, with striking miners blockading roads leading to shafts belonging to the mining giant, police said.

The platinum price jumped as much as 1.5 percent to $1,624.74 an ounce, its highest since mid-April amid fears of more disruption to supplies of the precious metal used in jewellery and vehicle catalytic converters.

South Africa is home to 80 percent of known reserves. The platinum price has jumped more than 17 percent since police shot dead 34 protesters at the Marikana mine of world No. 3 platinum producer Lonmin on 16 August, the bloodiest security incident since the end of apartheid in 1994.

The "Marikana massacre" has poisoned industrial relations across the mining sector and become a potent symbol of the ruling African National Congress' (ANC) failure to deliver on promises of a "better life for all" in the post-apartheid era.

The bloodshed and the government's inability to ease unrest undermining already shaky growth in Africa's biggest economy is also fuelling a campaign against President Jacob Zuma, who faces an internal ANC leadership battle in December.

"Around 1,000 mineworkers had a confrontation with mine security last night at the Siphumelele shaft and the situation has spread to other mine shafts this morning," regional police spokesman Thulani Ngubane said of the trouble at Amplats.

He declined to give any details of the size of the security operation, the latest police deployment in more than five weeks of union violence in the "platinum belt" around Rustenburg, 100 km northwest of Johannesburg.

Amplats' four Rustenburg mines represent almost 17 percent of total production by the company, which accounts for 40 percent of world platinum output. They employ more than 19,000 people.