South Africa's Amplats: back to 'meaningful' post-strike output in two weeks

JOHANNESBURG Wed Jun 25, 2014 1:16pm EDT

Miners gather near the Anglo American Platinum's Thembelani mine near the mining town of Rustenburg, northwest of Johannesburg September 30, 2013.   REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Miners gather near the Anglo American Platinum's Thembelani mine near the mining town of Rustenburg, northwest of Johannesburg September 30, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko

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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's Anglo American Platinum expects it will take about two weeks for it to resume significant output after a 5-month work stoppage at the world's biggest producer of the metal, its CEO said on Wednesday.

"I reckon in about two weeks we'll start seeing meaningful production," Chris Griffiths, Amplats chief executive, told Talk Radio 702.

Amplats, along with fellow producers Lonmin and Impala Platinum signed wage deals with the AMCU union on Tuesday, bringing an end to the longest and costliest labor strike in South African history.

Tens of thousands of miners returned to work on South Africa's platinum belt on Wednesday.

Griffiths estimated that if one included the ramp-up period back to full production, the company would effectively have lost

520,000 ounces of output as a result of the strike.

"The effect of that at some point in time is 11 billion rand ($1.04 billion) worth of revenue lost to the company," he said.

Griffiths said the producers did not make any agreement in their wage settlements with the AMCU union to refrain from restructuring or job cuts. AMCU's leader had said they made such a commitment.

"That certainly is one thing we did not agree to. All three of the companies did not agree to remove the notion of restructuring or retrenchments out of the future. We could not agree to that," Griffiths said.

The company and its parent Anglo American would update the market on the restructuring and reconfiguration of its platinum holdings in the second half of the year.

Despite the negative impact of the crippling strike, which caused South Africa's GDP to contract in the first quarter, Griffiths said both Amplats and its parent company were still "very positive" about platinum.

($1 = 10.5795 South African Rand)

(Reporting by Xola Potelwa; Editing by Pascal Fletcher)

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