JOHANNESBURG, June 13 (Reuters) – The leader of South Africa’s AMCU union said on Friday a wage deal with the top three platinum producers was imminent, signalling a possible end to a crippling five-month strike that has disrupted global output of the metal.
Workers from the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) begged leader Joseph Mathunjwa on Thursday to end the country’s longest mining strike and sign the latest offer – an increase of about 20 percent, or 1,000 rand ($93) a month.
Mathunjwa told Johannesburg radio he would take the offer to more AMCU members at mines on Friday, before meeting with management at Lonmin , Anglo American Platinum and Impala Platinum later or over the weekend to relay the response of his miners to their offer.
“At least there is light at the end of the tunnel, which is not the light of a goods train,” he told Talk Radio 702. The main outstanding sticking point was whether the wage deal should stretch over three or five years, he said. “We are in quite a sensitive stage of trying to resolve this and reach an agreement. We won’t do things haphazardly,” he said.
Bishop Joe Seoka, who mediated between miners, companies and the government after the police killing in August 2012 of 34 wildcat AMCU strikers, said communities around the Rustenburg mines in the platinum belt, made desperate by the strike, were ecstatic.
“The mood is very jubilant. People are very happy, very excited,” he told Reuters.
“Yesterday I could have flown if I’d had wings. If it hadn’t happened yesterday, it could never have happened.”
Investec Asset Management, a top 10 investor in all three mining companies, said a deal would end a worrying period of uncertainty but the industry faced major challenges.
“We are not out of the woods yet,” Hanré Rossouw, Cape Town- based head of resources at Investec, told Reuters.
“There are still some hard questions to be asked about ongoing sustainability of the industry. A large part of the industry is not generating positive returns,” he said.
South Africa is home to 80 percent of the world’s known platinum reserves and the strike has halted production at mines that usually account for 40 percent of global output of the precious metal.
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