South Africa's strike-hit Implats says violence is 'devastating'

JOHANNESBURG Fri May 16, 2014 5:40am EDT

Lonmin workers on strike listen to President of South Africa's Association of Mine workers and Construction Union (AMCU) Joseph Mathunjwa (not in picture) as he delivers his speech at the Wonderkop stadium in Nkaneng township outside the Lonmin mine in Rustenburg May 14, 2014. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Lonmin workers on strike listen to President of South Africa's Association of Mine workers and Construction Union (AMCU) Joseph Mathunjwa (not in picture) as he delivers his speech at the Wonderkop stadium in Nkaneng township outside the Lonmin mine in Rustenburg May 14, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Impala Platinum described on Friday as "devastating" the impact on its employees of a 16-week strike at its key South African operations and said it had lost 131,000 ounces of production to the stoppage in the March quarter.

"The human tragedy that is unfolding as a result of our employees not earning any income and the violence and intimidation being experienced on the platinum belt is devastating," Implats said in its third quarter production report.

The strike is centered on the platinum belt town of Rustenburg and Implats said the reopening of its mine there "will only be considered when the risk of violence and intimidation can be eliminated."

Anglo American Platinum and Lonmin have also been hit by the wage strike by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) and their attempts to woo workers back have been met this week by violence. Four miners were killed last the weekend.

In the three months to the end of March, Implats said it had produced 205,000 ounces of gross refined platinum, 41 percent lower than the comparable period in 2013.

"During the period of the strike to date, Impala has lost approximately 246,000 ounces of platinum production, equivalent to revenue of 5.4 billion rand ($520 million), while employees have forfeited wages of approximately 1.4 billion rand," the company said.

($1 = 10.3892 South African Rand)

(Reporting by Ed Stoddard; editing by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo)

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