High level mining meeting underway

Govt, Chamber of Mines and mining CEO's are meeting to find a solution to the mining sector crises.

A mine shaft. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - A crucial meeting between senior stakeholders in the mining sector is underway in Pretoria where looming industrial action and wage demands will be discussed.

Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan are meeting with the Chamber of Mines and CEO's from leaders in the gold and platinum sector.

The meeting precedes an address by Shabangu to the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) central executive committee this afternoon.

The Chamber of Mines Chief Negotiator Elize Strydom would not say much about Friday's meeting except to confirm that it was nearly underway.

The two ministers are expected to discuss the latest wage demands by NUM who have asked that a minimum of R7,000 be paid to workers in the gold and coal sectors.

Potential strikes at Anglo Platinum and Lonmin would also feature prominently as well as rivalry between Association of Mineworkers Construction Union (Amcu) and NUM that left several senior union leaders dead.

But it was not clear if the outcome of the meeting will be made public.'


The only reason NUM is losing members in the Rustenburg area is because workers are being intimidated into joining rival union Amcu, NUM officials said on Wednesday.

There are tensions between the two unions at Lonmin's Marikana Mine over majority recognition and even though an unprotected strike was called off last week the issue has not yet been resolved.

NUM used to be the majority union at Lonmin and had an agreement in place to only leave their office space in July.

Amcu is pushing for the union to leave before then.

It wants majority recognition now that it represents about 70 percent of the employees.

NUM's France Baleni said members are not leaving because of better prospects at Amcu.

Baleni said they are willing to work with Amcu to prevent job losses in the mining industry, but Amcu is continuing its fight for majority recognition, which some analysts said could spark more violence in the future.

Violence continued to rock the volatile area as 10 miners were rushed to hospital in the North West province after being shot with rubber bullets outside the Lanxess Chrome Mine in Rustenburg on Wednesday.

Workers embarked on an unprotected strike last week demanding performance bonuses.

On Tuesday morning, about 500 miners gathered outside the main gate, where clashes broke out with security guards.

The police's Thulani Ngubane said several rounds of rubber bullets were fired.

"About 10 protesters were injured and then taken to the mine hospital. The situation is currently under control."

The North West mining belt saw violent strikes and the industry being brought to a standstill last year after 34 miners were killed during clashes with police at Marikana.