JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - One person was killed and part of South Africa’s Royal Bafokeng Platinum’s (RBPlat) conveyor belt was burnt during overnight protests at one of its shafts in the country’s North West Province, the platinum producer said on Thursday.
Social and labor violence, soaring costs and depressed world platinum prices have hurt South Africa’s platinum industry and threatened its profitability.
RBPlat said on Thursday that an individual within a crowd of more than 100 protesters, who attempted to access its premises at its North Shaft on Wednesday night, was killed by live ammunition fired from someone in the group of protesters.
The protest was against recent staff dismissals and the company said its security had tried to disperse the crowd with rubber bullets and paint-balls.
Protesters also set fire to a conveyor belt, burning around 200 meters, and damaging a boom gate and guard house, the company said, adding it could not yet estimate the cost of the damage.
“Activity that takes place on the conveyer belt will be affected but the mining operations will continue,” said RBPlat spokesman Mpueleng Pooe.
The protest, which included former employees as well as unknown persons, stemmed from the dismissal of 14 employees last month, following a wildcat strike, the company said.
RBPlat said there had been no protests on Thursday but it would remain vigilant. The incident has been reported to the police and an investigation has begun, the company said.
Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg; Editing by Ed Stoddard and Susan Fenton