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Over R10bn lost in platinum strike

An estimated 80,000 Amcu members downed tools in the troubled platinum sector in January.

An estimated 80,000 Amcu members downed tools in the platinum sector in January and are demanding a basic salary of R12,500 per month. Picture: Mia Lindeque/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's three biggest platinum producers say over R10 billion has been lost since the start of a wage strike by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) nine weeks ago and around R4,5 billion has been lost by workers in earnings.

An estimated 80,000 Amcu members at Anglo American Platinum, Lonmin and Impala Platinum downed tools in January and are demanding a basic salary of R12,500 per month.

But the companies have rejected this demand saying it equates to a 30 percent increase that would lead to widespread job losses across the platinum belt.

Chris Hart, chief economist at Investment Solutions, says the companies' estimation of R10 billion is conservative and the true cost of the strike is much higher.

"The indirect losses however exceed that R10 billion when one takes into account the suppliers, small businesses and even large businesses in the Rustenburg area. The engineering works that are based in Johannesburg have also been affected."

Meanwhile, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe will meet with the mining industry and union s on Thursday for a regularly scheduled forum aimed at bringing stability to the sector.

Motlanthe's spokesperson Thabo Masebe said the meeting would have taken place even if there was no strike, but it could give the world's top platinum producers and Amcu a chance to meet for the first time since wage talks collapsed almost three weeks ago.

Motlanthe is the government's point man on labour tensions in the country's mining sector but past meetings have done little to ease them.