By Ed Stoddard
JOHANNESBURG May 16 Impala Platinum
described on Friday as "devastating" the impact on its employees
of a 16-week strike at its main South African operation in
Rustenburg and said it had lost more than $500 million in
The company signaled it expects the strike to drag on.
"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," it said in its third-quarter production report.
The strike is centred on the platinum belt town of
Rustenburg northwest of Johannesburg and Implats said the
reopening of its mine there "will only be considered when the
risk of violence and intimidation can be eliminated".
"The resumption of normalised production levels at Impala
Rustenburg, once the strike ends and operations resume, are
expected to take at least three months to achieve," it said.
"Consequently, no further production is expected from this
operation in the final quarter of FY2014."
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 weekend and rival unions have
said intimidation has been on the rise as the companies take
their latest wage offer directly to employees after talks
collapsed in late April.
AMCU denies allegations it uses violence to keep its roughly
70,000 members on the platinum mines in line.
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.
Underscoring the widening impact of the strike, the longest
and costliest ever to hit South Africa's mines, Implats said to
date it had lost "246,000 ounces of platinum production,
equivalent to revenue of 5.4 billion rand ($520 million)".
The company's employees have lost 1.4 billion rand ($134.75
million) in wages, it said.
For the full financial year, the company said it expected
group refined platinum sales to be around 1.2 million ounces.
"This will include approximately 150,000 ounces of platinum
that will be drawn down from metal inventories (pipeline and
refined stocks), with no further excess stocks immediately
available for draw down and/or sale," it said.
"The group will continue to support customers through this
difficult period, taking into account available metal and
individual customer needs," it said, reiterating that no force
majeure notices are expected as customers have agreed to reduced
($1 = 10.3892 South African Rand)
(Reporting by Ed Stoddard; editing by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo
and Susan Thomas)