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Confusion surrounds platinum agreement

Platinum producers have denied they gave an undertaking to Amcu to refrain from restructuring.

The crippling strike in the platinum sector officially came to an end on 24 June 2014. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - As thousands of miners clock in for a second day on the platinum belt, there's confusion around the deal that ended the country's longest mining strike.

The world's top three platinum companies on Wednesday said they will now work to rebuild their businesses now that the crippling strike in the sector has come to an end.

Amcu leadership and mine bosses on Tuesday signed a three-year settlement in Johannesburg after a deal was reached between the parties on Monday.

The companies collectively lost over R20 billion during the work stoppage.

Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa told his members that all three platinum producers had given an undertaking to refrain from restructuring to ensure stability.

"The commitment from the three platinum producers was that they would not embark on a restructuring process because they need to stabilise the mines."

But Anglo American Platinum says it never agreed to halt restructuring plans in the agreement.

Amplats chief executive Chris Griffith says no such assurance was given.

"The difficulties within both the platinum industry as well as Amplats have been communicated to the union all through the restructuring last year and that message has certainly continued through the strikes."

Amplats says it expects it will take at least a fortnight before any significant output takes place at its operations.

Lonmin has also confirmed it will embark on restructuring.

It's widely speculated that Impala Platinum will follow suit.

Several analysts have warned that restructuring will cause massive job cuts, but mineworkers said their union won't allow it to happen.

Meanwhile, minority unions at the platinum mines said they're bracing themselves for job cuts.

There's been no official announcement on how many workers could lose their jobs, although Solidarity estimates that around 10,000 people will be laid off.

Around 70,000 Amcu-affiliated mineworkers embarked on a work stoppage in January, demanding a basic salary of R12,500 per month.

The action halted mines that normally account for 40 percent of global platinum output and hit the country's overall GDP, pushing it into contraction in the first quarter of the year.

It was also mentioned by ratings agency Standard & Poor's as one of the reasons South Africa's credit rating was downgraded.

Around 70,000 Amcu-affiliated mineworkers embarked on a work stoppage in January, demanding a basic salary of R12,500 per month.

The action halted mines that normally account for 40 percent of global platinum output and hit the country's overall GDP, pushing it into contraction in the first quarter of the year.

It was also mentioned by ratings agency Standard & Poor's as one of the reasons South Africa's credit rating was downgraded.

Video: Mining strike ends.