* Strike has cost industry $1.4 bln in lost revenue
* Platinum price remains depressed despite strike
* Miners get ready for mass meeting - AMCU official
(Updates with end of talks)
By Ed Stoddard
JOHANNESBURG, April 23 Marathon talks aimed at
ending a crippling three-month strike in South Africa's platinum
sector will resume on Thursday after the world's top producers
and union AMCU spent two days haggling over an offer tabled last
week by the companies.
The strike is already the longest and most costly in living
memory for South Africa's mines, though there has been a renewed
drive to break the deadlock in recent days after several weeks
with no formal direct talks between the two sides.
"They have adjourned and will meet again tomorrow," an
industry source told Reuters. The talks involve the Association
of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) leadership and
chief executives from Anglo American Platinum, Impala
Platinum and Lonmin .
No talks had been scheduled beyond Wednesday, so the
reappearance of both sides at the negotiating table on Thursday
could be viewed as a sign of progress. But neither AMCU
officials nor the producers would comment on the discussions.
About 70,000 members of the hardline AMCU downed tools 13
weeks ago, hitting 40 percent of global production of the metal
used for emissions-capping catalytic converters in cars.
Initially demanding an immediate doubling of the basic wage
- net salary before allowances such as housing - for entry-level
workers to 12,500 rand ($1,200) a month, AMCU has since said it
would accept annual increases that would reach this goal in
three or even four years' time.
The producers' latest offer, made last Thursday, was for
wage rises of up to 10 percent and other increases that would
take the minimum pay package - the basic wage including the
allowances - to 12,500 rand a month by July 2017.
The companies are struggling to maintain margins in the face
of steeply rising costs on one hand and depressed platinum
prices on the other and say they cannot afford any more.
A painful restructuring is considered likely after the dust
clears from the strike, with job losses expected, especially
around Amplats's struggling Rustenburg operations.
Even if AMCU brings an offer to its members, the strike will
not end until votes are taken at mass meetings in the platinum
belt northwest of Johannesburg. This process could take days and
there is no guarantee an offer would be accepted.
"We have been told to prepare for a central mass meeting
this week. It may take place on Saturday," Siphamandla Makhanya,
an AMCU shop steward, told Reuters.
That may involve bringing thousands of miners back from
their rural homes in places such as the Eastern Cape province
hundreds of kilometres from the shafts. Many have returned to
their villages and families to sit out the strike.
Exacerbating the industry's woes is the muted price reaction
to the stoppage despite its scale. Traders have bet there are
adequate above-ground stocks and demand remains far from robust
in major markets such as Europe.
Spot platinum prices are about $1,400 an ounce,
around 3.5 percent lower than just before the walkout began on
The sector's viability is also being shaken. Producers have
lost 14.4 billion rand ($1.4 billion) to the strike so far,
according to an industry website that gives a running tally (here).
($1 = 10.5448 South African rand)
(Additional reporting by Zandi Shabalala; Editing by Louise
Ireland and David Goodman)