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South Africa mining crisis escalates

Thursday, September 13, 2012 - 01:56

Sept. 13 - Anglo American Platinum, the world's biggest platinum producer closes four of its mines in Rustenburg over staff safety fears. Hayley Platt reports

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Thousands of miners from Anglo American's plant at Rustenberg head to a rally in the heart of South Africa's platinum belt. Amplats is the world's biggest platinum producer - it's been forced to shut all 4 of its mines in the area for fear of violence. The firm says night shift workers were threatened and intimidated. And unions now want workers pay doubled before they'll return to work. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ASSOCIATION OF MINEWORKERS AND CONSTRUCTION UNION (AMCU) LEADER, JOSEPH MATHUNJWA, SAYING: "The truth is the mining sector is the biggest contributor to the South African economy, yet it is the worst when it comes to paying workers and improving working conditions. This has to stop now." The strikes began at Impala Platinum in January. They spread to Lonmin's Marakana mine where 44 people were killed. And earlier this week workers at Gold Fields KDC mine also downed tools. South Africa holds 80 percent of the world's platinum reserves - the escalating crisis is shaking investors confidence in Africa's largest economy. Goolam Ballim is chief economist at Standard Bank Group in South Africa. (SOUNDBITE) (English) STANDARD BANK GROUP CHIEF ECONOMIST, GOOLAM BALLIM,SAYING: "Of course what happens in mining impacts on the currency for instance and a weakness in the currency then causes inflation to accelerate which ultimately impacts on the lay man in the street or the consumer body because it erodes his real purchasing power." Amplats employs 50,000 people, half at Rustenberg. It also account for almost half the global output of platinum Neither Amplats or their parent company Anglo American have commented so far. Shares in Anglo American fell almost 2 percent in early trade, on top of a 4 percent fall the day before. Hayley Platt, Reuters.

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South Africa mining crisis escalates

Thursday, September 13, 2012 - 01:56