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Talks to end platinum strike stall again

Ngoako Ramathlodi says despite his efforts, talks between Amcu and platinum producers have deadlocked.

FILE IMAGE: Around 70,000 Amcu members have been on strike since January, demanding a basic salary of R12,500 per month. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Newly appointed Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramathlodi says he has already met with leaders of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) in an attempt to resolve the wage strike on the platinum belt.

Ramatlhodi succeeds Susan Shabangu, who was unable to secure a settlement between the union and Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin.

Around 70,000 members of the union have been on strike for four months, demanding a basic salary of R12,500 per month.

They have rejected an offer that would bring their cash remuneration to that amount by July 2017.

Amcu and platinum producers were in a second round of negotiations which was being mediated by a Labour Court judge.

Gross domestic product (GDP) data released by Statistics South Africa on Tuesday shows the economy contracted by 0.6 percent during the first quarter of this year, as the strike on the platinum belt continues to hamper mining output.

Ramatlhodi says despite his best efforts, the talks have deadlocked.

"We are working 24/7 and if we can solve it today I will be happy although it appears mediation came to a halt yesterday."

He says he will hold talks with representatives from the mining houses.

"I tasked my deputies yesterday afternoon to put together an inter-ministerial team to give me the capability to begin the process of mediating with the parties."

Ramatlhodi along with 34 ministers and 37 deputy ministers were sworn in at the presidential guesthouse in Pretoria on Monday afternoon in front of dignitaries which included senior ANC officials and members of the Presidency.

The event was presided over by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng and President Jacob Zuma.

Zuma announced his new Cabinet in Pretoria on Sunday evening, just a day after his inauguration at the Union Buildings.

Ramatlhodi has said his first duty will be to end the four-month long strike.

Meanwhile, mining experts say the industry is likely to adopt a wait-and-see approach to Ramatlhodi.

RUSTENBURG MINERS STABBED

At the same time, North West police are searching for suspects behind the latest attack on two mine employees in Rustenburg.

The men were on their way to work yesterday when they were ambushed near an Impala Platinum shaft.

The police's Thulani Zwane says the men were stabbed multiple times.

"A case of assault has been opened by the police to ensure we get to the bottom of the investigation."

He said authorities continue to urge mineworkers to respect the constitutional right of others to be able to go to work.

The attacks come after several deaths in the area in what is believed to be strike-related violence.

It's still unclear whether the latest attack is directly linked to Amcu's ongoing strike.