South Africa’s east platinum belt hit by over 400 social unrest incidents since 2016 – by Ed Stoddard (Reuters U.S. – April 10, 2018)

BURGERSFORT, South Africa (Reuters) – The eastern limb of South Africa’s platinum belt has been hit by over 400 incidents of social unrest impacting mining operations since the start of 2016, according to data compiled by Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) and provided to Reuters.

The restive region in the country’s northeast has been a flashpoint of violence rooted in community grievances over jobs, revenue flows and conflict between rival unions that threatens production in the world’s top producer of the precious metal.

Last week six workers were burnt to death in the area when the bus they were on was set alight by a petrol bomb. The bus was transporting them to their shifts at the Modikwa platinum mine operated by African Rainbow Minerals and Amplats.

The compiled incidents range from roadblocks to wildcat strikes to physical assaults against miners.On average over the period, either a roadblock, wildcat strike, march or act of violence took place in the region every second day which affected a mining operation in some way.

The data does not give estimates on production or revenue losses and does not compare with earlier periods. But it provides a sobering snapshot of a region in a perpetual state of unrest that has undermined the viability of some operations.

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