Bloomberg News

Anglo, Impala Face Strikes at World’s Largest Platinum Mines

July 13, 2011

(Updates with shares in sixth paragraph.)

July 13 (Bloomberg) -- Anglo American Platinum Ltd. and Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd., together making up about two- thirds of platinum supply, face strikes threatening output of the metal that’s trading near the highest in almost three years.

“We are heading for a strike,” the National Union of Mineworkers said in an e-mailed statement today, declaring a dispute with Impala. The country’s biggest union has also “approached members at Anglo Platinum for a mandate to shake the biggest platinum company in the world,” it said.

Anglo and Impala mine mostly in South Africa, accounting for more than three-quarters of world output of platinum used in applications from electronics and jewelry to devices that curb vehicle pollution. The NUM also yesterday declared a dispute with Northam Platinum Ltd., owner of the deepest platinum mine.

A 43-day strike that began Sept. 6, 2010, cost Northam 380 million rand ($55 million) in lost sales before workers settled for pay increases of as much as 13 percent, with international platinum prices rising about 9 percent over the period. The NUM is now demanding wage gains of more than four times the pace of inflation, which was running at an annual 4.6 percent in May.

Anglo American Platinum, a Johannesburg-based unit of Anglo American Plc, produced 2.57 million ounces of platinum last year and directly employed more than 54,000. Impala, also based in the city, produced 1.74 million and had 38,000 workers.

Share Prices

Anglo American Platinum fell 1.2 percent by 1:13 p.m. in Johannesburg, Northam was unchanged and Impala rose 0.9 percent. Platinum in London gained 0.9 percent to $1,744.50 an ounce. On May 2, the metal rose to $1,886.50, the highest since July 2008.

Gold and coal producers such as AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. and Xstrata Plc also face strikes. Gold industry wage talks resumed today, while the NUM declared a coal industry dispute last week.

A strike over pay in the petroleum industry is in its third day as the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers Union demands higher pay. Workers in the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa began a walkout on July 4.

Last year, state employees won a 7.5 percent pay raise and a 60 percent increase in housing allowances after nine months of negotiations and labor action that shut schools and interrupted services at hospitals and courts, and led to violent protests.

--Editors: Tony Barrett, Reed Landberg

To contact the reporter on this story: Carli Lourens in Johannesburg at clourens@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Viljoen at jviljoen@bloomberg.net


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