[South Africa platinum] Lonmin mine’s union crisis calms – by Sapa/Reuters (Mail and Guardian – August 15, 2012)


Police say no further incidents have been reported at Lonmin’s violence-stricken Marikana mine in the North West, where 10 people have been killed. “Police have been monitoring the situation at the mine throughout Tuesday night,” Captain Dennis Adriao said on Wednesday morning. “We have not received any reports of violence or deaths.”
Violence erupted when about 3 000 Lonmin rock drill operators started an illegal work stoppage and protest march on Friday at the company’s Western Platinum mine. It was the deadliest violence yet in a union membership turf war between the dominant National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the newer Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU).
A tenth body was found on Tuesday. A South African Press Association reporter who was on the scene said the body was lying face upwards 100m away from a hilltop where workers gathered earlier on Tuesday. The man was wearing khaki clothes.
Nine other people – two police officers, two security guards, three protesters and two other men – have been killed in the violent protests since Friday.Adriao said no arrests have been made yet, adding police would be in a position to give a more detailed update later on Wednesday morning.
Stopped work
 Meanwhile the world’s number three platinum producer has been forced to freeze operations at the mine.
Lonmin, already struggling with low prices and weak demand, may miss its annual production target of 750 000 ounces as the quarter to the end of September is typically its best. Its share price fell more than 4% in London and Johannesburg.
The London-based company accounts for 12% of global platinum output and the shutdown drove the spot price of the precious metal as much as 2% higher.
Executives at Lonmin said mining had stopped at all its shafts across the South African platinum belt, though essential services such as ventilation were continuing. The fact that the shafts remain operational should allow mining to restart as soon as miners return to work.
“Until the place is safe we don’t want to talk about production,” Lonmin executive vice-president Barnard Mokwena told a press briefing at Marikana.
The company said its ore processing division remained operational, but stockpiles were low.
AMCU officials deny their members are behind the unrest, but a pattern of illegal strikes followed by violence is emerging in the wake of their recruiting efforts.
“Management, they are in support of NUM, they’re sleeping in one bed with NUM,” AMCU president Joseph Mathunjwa told a news briefing.
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