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Volatility expected in platinum sector

Amcu is currently in its third week of a wage strike affecting three massive platinum companies.

Amcu is currently in its third week of a wage strike affecting three massive platinum companies. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - There are fresh warnings about instability in the platinum sector and the knock-on effects on the country's fragile economy.

The country's biggest platinum mining union, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), is currently in the third week of a wage strike at the three biggest platinum miners.

Chamber of Mines chief economist Roger Baxter says the platinum sector accounts for about half a million jobs and a significant chunk of merchandise exports.

He says the impact of this strike should not be underestimated.

"The share price of mining has a bearing on the share price of South Africa. People often underestimate the role that mining plays in the economy. Platinum alone accounts for about nine percent of our merchandise exports."

The chamber says the platinum sector is losing close to R400 million a day due to the strike.

NEGOTIATIONS UNDERWAY

There's still no indication whether Amcu and platinum producers have reached a wage agreement

On Tuesday talks continued after the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration came up with a proposal to put an end to the strike.

At least 100,000 miners from Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), Impala Platinum and Lonmin downed tools demanding a R12,500 minimum salary.

Amcu's Joseph Mathunjwa maintains that this is achievable.

"These companies are rich. If you can look at their books there are trillions just sitting there."

Meanwhile, seven striking miners were injured at Amplats's Khuseleka 1 shaft following clashes with police.

Striking miners at Anglo American Platinum's Rustenburg mine. Pictures: EWN.

Officers used rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse around 3,000 workers at the Rustenburg facility in the North West.

At least two miners were arrested.

It is understood police opened fire on a large group of the miners after they refused to disperse from an illegal picketing site.