Thursday, September 20, 2012

South African miners return to work as unrest spreads

(Reuters) - Thousands of miners at Lonmin's Marikana operations in South Africa returned work on Thursday after a hefty pay hike ended a six-week strike, but nearby mines faced more industrial action with workers demanding similar raises.

Shouting "We are reporting for work" in Fanagalo, a pidgin mix of Zulu, English and other African languages, the Lonmin miners were in jubilant mood after securing wage rises of up to 22 percent.

Forty-six people died during the wildcat strike at the world's number three producer, and constricted supplies of the precious metal pushed its price more than 20 percent higher.

"I feel very happy that I can go back to work now," said Nqukwe Sabulelo, a rock-driller at the mine, 100 km (60 miles) northwest of Johannesburg. "I'm going to live well now."

But the unrest has taken root at other mines, with the world's biggest platinum producer, Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), threatening legal action if wildcat strikers did not return to work on Thursday.

"Anglo American Platinum's Rustenburg mining operations are already under considerable economic pressure," it said in a statement. "Any further delays in returning to work will only increase the risk to the long-term viability of these mines." Read More