Bloomberg News

Xstrata Coal Mines, Ferrochrome Smelters Disrupted by Strike

October 17, 2011

(Updates with Xstrata comment in second paragraph.)

Oct. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Xstrata Plc, the world’s largest exporter of coal used in power plants, said all of its coal operations in South Africa were affected by a strike that also hit production at the company’s ferrochrome smelters.

The Rhovan vanadium operation and Eland platinum mine have been affected in addition to the Lydenburg and Lio ferrochrome smelters, Xstrata said in an e-mailed response to a query today. The strike started late yesterday, local Xstrata spokesman Songezo Zibi said by mobile phone.

The National Union of Mineworkers, the nation’s largest labor union, seeks equal benefits for all workers under an employee share ownership program, while the company sought different benefits for managers, NUM said in a statement last week, announcing the strike.

Xstrata, based in Zug, Switzerland, is the world’s largest producer of ferrochrome, used to make stainless steel. The company produces ferrochrome in South Africa in a venture with Merafe Resources Ltd.

“At this stage, Xstrata is not able to ascertain the production impact of the strike as some shifts have not as yet commenced,” the company said in the e-mail.

Talks with the union were suspended “in the light of industrial action, which is taking place despite progress having been made towards a resolution,” Xstrata said.

Kajal Bissessor, a spokeswoman for Merafe, declined to comment on whether the company is affected by the Xstrata strike when Bloomberg News reached her by phone in Johannesburg, referring queries to Xstrata. Merafe’s main business is its 20.5 percent stake in the ferrochrome venture with Xstrata.

Xstrata fell 2.6 percent to 949 pence at the close in London. The FTSE 350 Mining Index declined 1.9 percent.

--With assistance from Franz Wild in Johannesburg. Editors: Alex Devine, Stephen Cunningham

To contact the reporter on this story: Carli Lourens in Johannesburg at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Ana Monteiro at; John Viljoen at

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