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By Ed Stoddard
JOHANNESBURG, May 22 (Reuters) - Impala Platinum, the world’s second-largest platinum producer, said it was losing production of 3,000 ounces a day as most workers were not reporting for duty at its Rustenburg mine on Tuesday because of labour unrest.
The mine, shut for six weeks earlier this year because of a power struggle war between unions, has been hit again by fresh clashes between the dominant National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU).
“We have called on our employees to return to work and allow the law to take its course and for the violence to cease. Production will be impacted by 3,000 platinum ounces a day,” Implats said in a statement.
Implats’ Rustenburg operation accounts for about 15 percent of global output and the spot platinum price was around 0.5 percent higher in early trade on Tuesday at around $1,468.00 an ounce.
Police spokeswoman Adele Myburgh said roads around an informal settlement near the mine had been blocked by rocks, and workers were being prevented from showing up for shifts. The community has been the scene of violent clashes in the past.
She said the protests flared when police arrested two suspects Monday afternoon for shooting and wounding another miner last week in an NUM/AMCU scuffle.
“The suspects are allegedly part of AMCU and the worker shot belongs to NUM. So the AMCU members have gone on strike demanding the release of the two suspects,” Myburgh said.
Implats said it had not received any demands from the workers in relation to the work stoppage “which in our view is as a result of continued union rivalry between the NUM and AMCU.”
The often violent 6-week stoppage earlier this year cost Implats 120,000 ounces in lost output and pushed the spot price of platinum higher.
South Africa accounts for most global production and supply and the country’s platinum sector has also been hit by a government safety drive that has seen a surge in inspections and operational stoppages for violations. (Editing by Hans-Juergen Peters)