* Two killed in strike-related violence, 57 arrested
* Union says options in gold dispute now "exhausted"
* Platinum output falls 1.9 pct in August
(Updates death toll, para 11, adds chamber in para 6)
By Sherilee Lakmidas and Agnieszka Flak
JOHANNESBURG, Oct 11 Striking gold miners in
South Africa have rejected the industry's latest wage offer, a
trade union said on Thursday, dimming hopes that strikes that
have led to dozens of deaths and paralysed the sector could end
Since August, almost 100,000 workers across South Africa -
including 75,000 in the mining sector - have downed tools in
often illegal and violent walkouts that are hitting economic
growth and undermining investor confidence in the minerals hub.
"This was a final offer from the companies. They said take
it or leave it," Lesiba Seshoka, spokesman for the National
Union of Mineworkers said. "Now that it has been rejected our
options have been exhausted."
Africa's top two bullion producers, AngloGold Ashanti
and Gold Fields, have been hit by an estimated
48,000 miners taking to the streets to fight for higher wages.
The action is costing AngloGold 32,000 ounces of gold each
week, while Gold Fields is losing 2,300 ounces a day at the two
mines that have been affected.
The Chamber of Mines, which represents employers, said more
time was needed to communicate the proposals to employees and
another meeting with unions was scheduled for Monday.
The wildcat strikes, which started in the platinum industry
and then spread to other mining companies and beyond, have
raised questions about President Jacob Zuma's leadership and
tarnished South Africa's reputation among foreign investors.
Africa's biggest economy is home to 80 percent of known
reserves of platinum. The price of the precious metal has
risen more than 20 percent since police shot 34 miners on Aug.
16, the bloodiest security incident since the end of apartheid
DEATH TOLL EXCEEDS 50
The death toll from the labour unrest has risen to more than
50, and the violence continues.
Police used tear gas and fired rubber bullets on Thursday to
disperse striking miners at the Ikanini informal settlement near
an Anglo American Platinum mine in Rustenburg, 120 km
(70 miles) northwest of Johannesburg.
A police spokesman said one man had been burned to death and
another had been shot by protesters and had died in hospital.
"The volatility in the area is a result of the ongoing mine
strikes. This is linked to the strike action," Thulani Ngubane,
a police spokesman, said. Fifty-seven people had been arrested
for public violence, another spokesman added.
South Africa's production of platinum group metals fell 1.9
percent in August compared to the same month last year, data
showed on Thursday, while output of gold, which only began to be
hot by strikes in September, rose marginally.
The government estimates that gold and platinum production
worth 4.5 billion rand ($517 million) has been lost to strikes
so far, along with 118 million rand in lost coal production.
Central Bank governor Gill Marcus said this week the
domestic economic outlook was "deteriorating rapidly", with the
unrest likely to lead to job losses.
The mines employ around 500,000 people.
State-run logistics group Transnet's cargo volumes have
declined by 3-4 percent in volume terms in the past month, said
Siyabonga Gama, head of its freight rail unit.
"If there's no production and stocks are depleted the whole
economy suffers," he told Reuters on the sidelines of a consumer
goods conference in Johannesburg.
Beyond mining, wage talks with the main union behind a
three-week truck driver strike that has hit supplies of fuel,
cash and consumer goods, collapsed again this week. Port and
rail workers are expected to join their colleagues in a one-day
sympathy protest next week.
Government employees also plan to strike from next week.
The South African Petroleum Industry Association said petrol
stations were experiencing delays of up to a day in getting fuel
and that some had run completely dry.
The rand fell to a 3-1/2 year low against the
dollar earlier this week and Moody's cut South Africa's
government bond rating last month, citing the government's
difficulty in keeping up with spreading unrest.
($1 = 8.7032 South African rand)
(Additional reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng in Johannesburg
and Joshua Nhlapo in Ikanini; Editing by Ed Cropley and Andrew