Bloomberg News

Impala Says Most Workers at Rustenburg Not at Work Today

May 22, 2012

Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. (IMP), the world’s second-largest producer of the metal, said the latest bout of labor unrest at its Rustenburg mine in South Africa will cost the company 3,000 platinum ounces in lost output a day.

Night-shift workers at Rustenburg, the world’s biggest platinum mine, refused to go underground yesterday after discovering that some of their colleagues had been arrested. The arrests followed union clashes last week that resulted in one person being shot, the Johannesburg-based company said today in an e-mailed statement. Most employees didn’t report for duty today, it said.

Those arrested were local leaders of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, which is competing for members with the National Union of Mineworkers, the country’s biggest union.

“Workers plan to march to the Phokeng Police Station this morning to demand the release of their leaders,” Impala said. “We have not received any demands from workers in relation to this work stoppage which in our view is as a result of continued union rivalry between the NUM and AMCU.”

Rivalry between the organizations and concern about pay disparity led to the dismissal of 17,200 Rustenburg workers during an illegal strike in January and operations closing from Jan. 20 to March 5. Four people were killed and more than 50 injured during the protest. Impala’s Rustenburg mine produces about 12 percent of global output of the metal.

Court Appearance

The three workers arrested yesterday will appear on charges of attempted murder today at the Bafokeng Magistrates Court in Rustenburg, police spokesman Thulani Ngubane said by phone. Workers hadn’t yet gathered at the Phokeng station, he said.

The mine, northwest of Johannesburg, produced 941,200 ounces of platinum in the year through June 30. That’s 12 percent of Impala’s 7.88 million-ounce estimate of global supply in 2011.

Impala gained 1.2 percent to 142.16 rand by 10:05 a.m. in Johannesburg, paring its drop this year to 15 percent. Platinum advanced for a fourth day, adding 0.1 percent to $1,469.25 an ounce in London.

AMCU General Secretary Jeff Mphahlele declined to comment when contacted on his mobile phone. Calls to AMCU’s headquarters didn’t connect.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ana Monteiro in Johannesburg at amonteiro4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Amanda Jordan at ajordan11@bloomberg.net


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