Mineral resources minister calls for calm in Steelpoort

Ngoako Ramatlhodi has condemned the use violence and intimidation during demonstrations.

FILE: Minister of Mineral Resources Ngoako Ramatlhodi. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi has called for calm in the Steelpoort mining town of Sekhukhune in Limpopo.

Over the past few days protesters have disrupted mining operations in the area.

Two months ago, residents blocked the main road with stones and burning tyres barring motorists from using the busy road that links the town to Polokwane.

At the centre of the protest are millions of rands which the community claims it was promised when companies were granted mining rights eight years ago.

Ramatlhodi has condemned the use violence and intimidation during these demonstrations.

His spokesperson Phuti Mabelebele said, "He's appealed that people should not resolve to violent means in solving problems that might be there in the area. Minister Ramatlhodi will pay a visit to the area tomorrow to establish the reasons for the protest."

South Africa's mining industry has been rocked over the past three years by periodic outbreaks of violence and labour unrest about pay and conditions.

Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), which owns 50 percent of the Mototolo mine in the area, said its production had not been disrupted. The company and mining industry sources said protests over the past few days were related to community grievances about poor roads.

It was unclear how many people had been involved.

Amplats said its output had not been affected.

"No production has been impacted, and with regards to transport we are using an alternative road as the protests have been concentrated at a specific area," a spokeswoman for Amplats said.

Additional reporting by Reuters.