* Talks this week aim to end nearly two-week strike
* Industry body says strike costing country $36 mln a day
* Police disperse 3,000 striking miners
(Adds reports on violence)
By Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo
JOHANNESBURG, Feb 4 Wage talks between South
Africa's AMCU union and the world's top three platinum producers
resumed on Tuesday to try to end a nearly two-week strike that
has seen outbreaks of violence and is costing the country an
estimated $36 million a day.
Members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction
Union (AMCU) walked out at Anglo American Platinum (Amplats)
, Impala Platinum and Lonmin in
January, demanding that monthly wages be more than doubled.
Police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse
about 3,000 striking miners at an Amplats shaft on Tuesday, and
have been involved in several clashes since the strike started.
They have been patrolling the platinum belt for weeks, wary
of a repeat of the bloodshed of the last two years which has
killed dozens of miners, notably at Marikana where police shot
34 dead 18 months ago and several policemen were killed.
The government has been unable to soothe tensions in the
mining area, 120 km (70 miles) northwest of Johannesburg, where
miners are angry about their lack of economic progress two
decades after the end of apartheid.
This strike has halted production on about 40 percent of
global platinum supply.
"The strikes are currently costing the industry about 197
million rand per day," Roger Baxter, chief operations officer at
South Africa's Chamber of Mines, the main industry body, said.
"We estimate that the daily cost to the country is closer to
400 million rand ($36 million) a day," he said.
Government mediators said on Sunday they had made a proposal
to end the strike but did not give details.
"They (the miners and the companies) will meet for three
days," a spokeswoman for the Commission for Conciliation,
Mediation and Arbitration said, as the talks started in the
capital Pretoria on Tuesday.
Amplats Chief Executive Chris Griffith said on Monday there
might be progress by the end of this week as people "don't want
this to be a protracted strike".
The government has stepped in to mediate to avoid damage to
an already struggling economy and to the political standing of
President Jacob Zuma and the ruling African National Congress,
which faces general elections in about three months.
The producers, squeezed by soaring costs and weaker platinum
prices, say the wage demands are unaffordable and unrealistic.
Wildcat strikes in 2012 also dented profits and output.
Labour group, the National Union of Metalworkers of South
Africa (NUMSA), walked out at Amplats refineries and smelters on
Monday, but operations have not been affected, the company said.
($1 = 11.2320 South African rand)
(Additional reporting by Zandi Shabalala in Johannesburg and
Wendell Roelf in Cape Town; Editing by Louise Ireland)