British platinum producer Lonmin Plc has warned that an indefinite strike will threaten the jobs of more than 40,000 workers at its Marikana mine in South Africa. The firm’s workers have been on strike for nearly four weeks bringing production to a halt.

“An indefinite strike will ultimately threaten the jobs of more than 40,000 workers. We cannot go on indefinitely without normalising operations and still escape the consequences of the mine not being operational,” said Lonmin.

A paltry 4.5 percent of Lonmin’s 28,000 work force reported to work across all shafts on Monday. Lonmin, which is the world’s third-biggest platinum producer is losing 2,500 ounces of platinum every day the mine is closed and has already warned it might not reach its annual production target of 750 000 ounces. The Marikana mine accounts for about 96 percent Lonmin’s output.

Lonmin has been holding talks with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) and government officials as its seeks to reach a peace accord and resume operations at Marikana.

On August 16 police shot and killed 34 striking workers at the Marikana mine and injured 78 others.

The South African Government yesterday moved to reassure investors that the incidents surrounding Marikana are not a reflection of the business environment in the country.

“We would like to reassure all stakeholders and the international community that mining operations continue unhindered in other parts of the North West province and throughout the country. The country continues to fully support direct investment and appropriate incentives and the legislative framework is in place to give confidence and predictability to investment decisions and security of tenure,” read a statement issued by the presidency.

The assurance however came the same day four striking gold mine workers were shot and wounded by security guards during a wage protest.

The four work for Gold One One International Ltd flagship Modder East mine which is reportedly partly owned by a company in which President Jacob Zuma’s nephew, Khulubuse, and Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Zondwa, have a stake.

According to police, security guards used rubber bullets to break up a scuffle between striking and non-striking workers.

The industrial action and violence that has hit platinum companies in South Africa is now spreading to the gold industry.

Another gold miner, Gold Fields announced last week that about 12, 000 workers at its KDC Gold Mine (KDC) on the West Rand in South Africa failed to turn up for work from Wednesday, 29 August 2012.


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