South African police, security shoot and injure 4 at gold mine in latest mining clash – by Michelle Faul (The Associated Press/Regina Leader-Post – September 4, 2012)

JOHANNESBURG – South African police and security guards fired rubber bullets and tear gas Monday at sacked gold miners who were attacking colleagues to block them from working, the mine owner said. Police said four people were wounded at the mine that used to be partially owned by the president’s nephew.
The clash at the Gold Fields mine east of Johannesburg, reported by police and Neal Froneman, the CEO of Gold One International, was the latest violence to hit South Africa’s mines in months of unrest.
Company spokesman Sven Lunsche said some 12,000 of the company’s workers “continue to engage in an unlawful and unprotected strike” that began Wednesday. He said it involved an internal dispute between local union leaders and members of the National Union of Mineworkers, the country’s largest union.
After apartheid ended in 1994, South Africa pressed to share the country’s vast mineral wealth with its impoverished black majority. But the hoped-for result has not occurred. A small black elite has become billionaires off mining while most South Africans continue to struggle against mounting unemployment, deeper poverty and a widening gap between rich and poor that makes the country one of the most unequal on Earth.

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South Africa withdraws murder charges against miners – for now – by Susan Njanji (Globe and Mail – September 2, 2012)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

PRETORIA – Agence France-Presse – South Africa said Sunday that controversial murder charges against 270 miners over the deaths of fellow workers shot by police, the worst such clash since the apartheid era, will be provisionally dropped.

Following a public furor, acting national director of prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba, said that after having sought an explanation from the department’s lead prosecutors, she had taken the decision to review the charge.

“The murder charge against the current 270 suspects, which was provisional anyway, will be formally withdrawn provisionally in court on their next court appearance,” Ms. Jiba told reporters.

A final decision on the charges will be taken after a series of investigations into the shootings, hich left 34 dead and 78 wounded, are complete. They include a judicial commission of inquiry appointed by President Jacob Zuma, which has until January to present its findings. Thursday’s decision to charge the miners over the August 16 killings during a wildcat strike at the Lonmin PLC platinum mine had triggered outrage.

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Murder charges stun and enrage South African miners – by Lydia Polgreen (The New York Times News Service/Globe and Mail – August 31, 2012)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

Two weeks after the police opened fire on a crowd of 3,000 workers engaged in a wildcat strike at a platinum mine near Johannesburg, killing 34 people in the bloodiest labour unrest since the end of apartheid, prosecutors are bringing murder charges against a surprising set of suspects: the miners themselves.

Using an obscure legal doctrine frequently relied upon by the apartheid government in its dying days, prosecutors did not accuse the police officers who shot and killed the strikers as they surged forward, machetes in hand. Instead, officials said Thursday that they were pursuing murder charges against the 270 miners who were arrested after the dust settled and the shooting stopped.

It was the latest astonishing turn in a saga that has gripped South Africa, unleashing a torrent of rage over deepening inequality, poverty and unemployment.

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Dr. Stephen F. Burgess is Associate Professor, Department of International Security, U.S. Air War College. His three books are South Africa’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (with Helen Purkitt), Smallholders and Political Voice in Zimbabwe, and The United Nations under Boutros Boutros-Ghali, 1992-97. He has published numerous articles and book chapters on African security issues.

Dr. Burgess helped to lead in the organization and execution of the Air Force Africa Command Symposium held at Air University. Since 1999, Dr. Burgess has taught courses on international security, peace and stability operations, and African regional and cultural studies. He is also an Associate Director of the U.S. Air Force Counterproliferation Center. Dr. Burgess holds a Ph.D. from Michigan State University and has been a faculty member at Vanderbilt University, the University of Zambia, the University of Zimbabwe, and Hofstra University.

The principal sustainability challenge in Southern Africa for the United States and its allies is uncertain access to strategic minerals, particularly platinum group metals (PGMs), chromium and manganese; and rare earth minerals, cobalt and uranium. The causes of this challenge are increasing global demand and supply shortages caused by inadequate infrastructure, politicization of the mining industry, and China‟s aggressive, monopolistic behavior in pursuit of minerals.

The challenge is most acute in the five Southern African countries of South Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo,
Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia. Environmental sustainability of the mining industry is another concern. The purpose of this paper is to provide scope to the problem and recommend steps the United States can take in order to ensure continued access.

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Ghosts of apartheid haunt memorials at [South Africa] Lonmin mine – by David Dolan (Globe and Mail – August 24, 2012)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

MARIKANA, SOUTH AFRICA – South Africans held a memorial service on Thursday at a mine where police shot dead 34 strikers, bloodshed that revived memories of apartheid-era violence and laid bare workers’ anger over enduring inequalities since the end of white rule.

Some 500 people crammed into a marquee pitched at the platinum mine, near what has been dubbed the “Hill of Horror” where police opened fire on striking miners in the deadliest security incident since apartheid ended in 1994.

Crowds spilled out into the scorched, dusty fields outside, listening to hymns and prayers. Women wrapped in blankets wept and mourners placed flowers at the scene. Other memorials took place around the country, including in downtown Johannesburg.

“Such a killing of people, of children, who haven’t done anything wrong and they didn’t have to die this way,” said Baba Goloza whose two sons died. He blamed mine owner Lonmin for not taking care of its workers at its Marikana mine, northwest of Johannesburg.

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S. African platinum mine strikes spread – by Javier Blas (Financial Times/Globe and Mail – August 23, 2012)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

Platinium mine after platinum mine, the labour unrest in South Africa is spreading. Terence Goodlace, chief executive at Impala, the world’s second-biggest platinum miner, warned on Thursday of a “significant risk to the industry.”

The warning came only a day after workers at two other platinum mines also demanded higher salaries and blocked the entrance to several underground pits, prompting concerns of full-blown industrial unrest in South Africa, one of the world’s most important commodity producers. The country is home not just to platinum but also to significant deposits of dozens of other minerals.

Yet, industry executives, analysts and bankers point out that the unrest so far remains concentrated in the restive platinum sector, with little sign that it is spreading to other commodities such as gold and iron ore, which have a history of better labour relations.

The violence – which has left at least 44 people dead and more than 70 injured – started two weeks ago when a group of drill operators at London-listed Lonmin demanded substantial wage increases amid a turf war between rival unions.

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Unrest spreads in violence-hit South Africa mining belt – by Ed Stoddard ( – August 22, 2012)

RUSTENBURG, South Africa – (Reuters) – Labor unrest in South Africa’s platinum belt spread on Wednesday, raising concerns that anger over low wages and poor living conditions could generate fresh violence after 34 striking miners were shot dead by police last week.

The strike that started last week at Lonmin’s Marikana mine has driven up platinum prices and stoked worries about investing in Africa’s biggest economy, where chronic unemployment and income disparities threaten social stability.

At Marikana, a somber-looking President Jacob Zuma stood under a parasol held by an aide to address around 2,000 subdued miners. In the Xhosa and Zulu languages, he said there was no need for workers to die in a Labor dispute. “This is painful to all of us. It is not acceptable for people to die where talks can be held. But I do feel your pain and have come personally to express that,” he said.

The world’s top platinum producer, Anglo American Platinum, said on Wednesday it had received a demand for a pay increase from its South African workers, while Royal Bafokeng Platinum said a Labor action by about 500 miners interrupted work at a shaft at its Rasimone mine.

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New Anglo Platinum wage demand a potentially ominous development – by Lawrence Williams ( – August 22, 2012)

A new pay demand from Anglo American Platinum workers, bypassing the NUM union, is yet another disturbing development in the South African platinum sector.

LONDON (Mineweb) –  The latest note from Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) reporting that it has received an unspecified pay increase demand from workers on the world’s largest platinum mine is a possibly ominous development for the South African platinum sector.  The demand has come from workers directly, rather than through official National Union of Mineworkers (the principal mining union at the mines) channels, and this mirrors the demands at Lonmin’s Marikana mine where again no official demands were made to the mine owners via the union.
What is particularly worrying here is that the miners are bypassing the NUM suggesting a total lack of trust in the traditional mining union setup.  The NUM appears to be being seen as a vassal of the ruling African National Congress political party – i.e. part of the new South African establishment – where it is beginning to be felt that miner’s interests are taking second place to political interests (in this case the preservation of a key part of the South African economy).
By Western standards South African mine pay at the main workforce level is low with the average miner probably earning between $500 to $1000 a month to work in what many outsiders would consider dirty and dangerous conditions. 

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Lonmin miners return after violent strike – by Pav Jordan (Globe and Mail – August 22, 2012)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

Employees are trickling back to work under heavy security at South Africa’s Marikana platinum mine, where clashes with police left 34 dead and more than twice as many injured last week amid strife between striking workers and Lonmin PLC, the world’s third-largest platinum miner.

The London-based company said a third of Marikana’s 28,000-strong work force reported for duty on Tuesday, allowing a partial resumption of some operations but no return to production, and warned it may not meet debt covenants as a result of losses.

Tensions have built for months between platinum miners and workers in South Africa, where politics – at the union, local and national level – mix with high unemployment, sinking metals prices and booming costs to create a tinderbox for labour unrest.

“I think everyone is on tenterhooks in the platinum area,” said Bruce Dickinson, a partner with Webber Wentzel law firm in Johannesburg who specializes in the mining. “I don’t think people are viewing this as isolated; where it hasn’t hit yet, people are waiting to see if it does,” he said from Johannesburg.

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Ousted South African leader blames government for miners’ deaths – by Michelle Faul (Associated Press/Toronto Star – August 19, 2012)

The Toronto Star has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

JOHANNESBURG—Miners and their families welcomed expelled politician Julius Malema on Saturday as he told the thousands who gathered at the site where 34 miners were killed this week that South African police had no right to fire the live bullets that killed them.

Malema, the former youth leader of the governing African National Congress, arrived as family members continued to hunt for loved ones missing since Thursday’s shootings. Women said they did not know if their husbands and sons were among the dead, or among the 78 wounded or some 256 arrested by police on charges from public violence to murder.

“They had no right to shoot,” Malema said, even if the miners had opened fire first. Malema is the first politician to address the miners at the site during a more than week-long saga in which 10 people were killed before Thursday’s shootings — including two police officers butchered to death and two mine security guards whom strikers burned alive in their vehicle. He said he had come because the government had turned its back on the strikers.

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South Africa’s union war for platinum and how the miners got it wrong – by Ed Stoddard ( – August 20, 2012)

Industry insiders, companies and unions know the sector has some very tough decisions to make, but it’s not just platinum that is at risk.

LYDENBURG, South Africa (Reuters) –  South Africa’s platinum promise of prosperity has turned into a heap of broken dreams for Vusimuzi Mathosi, one of 2,000 workers laid off by Aquarius Platinum at its Everest Mine.
“This place can only be sustained with platinum. What can we do now?,” he told Reuters near the one-room box he and his family call home in a dilapidated township on the outskirts of Lydenburg, 300 km (180 miles) east of Johannesburg.
He belongs to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), whose b loody turf war for members with the dominant National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) was the backdrop to Thursday’s killing of 34 striking platinum miners by police at the Marikana mine.

When Aquarius, the world’s 4th largest producer of the precious metal, closed production at Everest, it cited worsening industrial relations stemming from the AMCU/NUM battle which has turned workers into warriors across the platinum sector.

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South Africa mine shooting leaves 34 dead and a nation reeling – by Geoffrey York (Globe and Mail – August 18, 2012)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

One of the bloodiest police shootings since the days of apartheid has killed 34 miners and injured 78 at a South African platinum mine, leaving the nation in crisis and searching its soul over the rising levels of violent protest and police brutality.

South African President Jacob Zuma cut short a foreign tour, abandoning a regional summit in Mozambique to rush to the mine site. Politicians condemned the shooting, while the South African media called it a massacre and analysts accused the police of an excessive response to the striking mineworkers.

Mr. Zuma later announced that he will set up a commission of inquiry into the shootings at the Lonmin mine near Rustenburg. He said the entire country was “saddened and dismayed” by the “shocking” deaths. “The inquiry will enable us to get to the real cause of the incident,” he said.

The police opened fire with automatic rifles and pistols on Thursday when confronted by an advancing mob of mineworkers. Early reports suggested that as many as 18 people were killed, but on Friday the police announced that 34 were killed, 78 injured and 259 were arrested.

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Power needs dictate plant location [Ring of Fire ferrochrome smelter] – by Mary Katherine Keown (Sudbury Star – August 13, 2012)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

 Despite an impassioned resolution put forth by the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association, which supported the construction and operation of a ferrochrome smelter at Exton, the government of Ontario announced May 9 that Capreol would be home to the new facility.
It was a matter of logistics, say Bill Boor, senior vice-president of global ferroalloys at Cleveland-based Cliffs Natural Resources, and David Cartella, general manager of environmental affairs and environmental counsel at Cliffs.
“We went through a pretty extensive analysis of all the sites where the furnace could be located,” they explain. “There were only a handful of sites that could handle this, and Sudbury was one of them … The power solution is why Sudbury was the winner.”
Electric arc furnaces, which are used to melt chromite ore, reach temperatures of 2,800 C. The amount of electricity needed to run the furnaces at the Capreol smelter could power a city of 300,000, Ramsey Hart, Canada program co-ordinator at Mining Watch Canada, says. “The operation of the mine and the transportation of the minerals also have significant carbon footprints,” he says.

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[Ontario’s Ring of Fire] North’s Holy Grail: tapping a $1 trillion resource – by Mary Katherine Keown (Sudbury Star – August 11, 2012)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

On a humid summery day — the kind of day that makes you feel like you must be living inside a sauna — you open the door to your refrigerator and reach for something to cool you from the inside out. If you count yourself among a growing number of stylish, quality-craving homeowners, yours is a stainless steel fridge. House-hunters and remodellers alike covet stainless steel appliances for their durability, timelessness and aesthetic quality. Industry experts estimate 40% of new appliance sales include “a stainless steel-type finish,” according to Dr. Steel on
Stainless steel appliances have been on the market for the ACCENT past two decades and show no signs of waning popularity. Fingerprints aside, designers recommend them as a solid investment with high resale value. The Atlantic ran a piece in February questioning the popularity of stainless steel. While the author, Megan McArdle, has some reservations, its appeal to domestic types is undeniable.
“As a status symbol, (such appliances) signify that: a) you (are) a serious cook, and b) you didn’t just go to Circuit City to get your appliances,” she writes. “In other words, stainless steel has become a status god. That’s why all those young couples on house-hunting shows adamantly shake their heads when they walk into an otherwise charming fixer-upper and say ‘No way. I want stainless.’ “

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What Makes a Critical Metal “Critical” or a Strategic Element “Strategic”? – by Michael S. Fulp (The Mercenary Geologist – August 6, 2012)

I was a keynote speaker at the recent Murdock Capital Partners Critical Metals / Strategic Elements Symposium in New York City. This is my second gig at one of convener Tom Dean’s on-going series of symposia and I thank him for continuing support. Although the venue is small, intimate, and limited to 75 attendees, the investor quality is second to none, particularly in the amount of money represented and managed. In my presentation I categorized the metals critical to modern-day civilization and reviewed the minor metals that are increasingly used by society in new technological applications.

Recently a plethora of alternative names have been proposed and promoted for what were once known as the specialty or minor metals. These mostly obscure elements span the gamut from the lightest to the heaviest on the periodic table. In my opinion, analysts and investors alike have become confused by these newly-invented misnomers.

Much of the confusion can be blamed squarely on two recent reports from the United States government.

In December 2010, the US Department of Energy (DOE) produced a report entitled “Critical Metals Strategy”. It identified seven rare earth elements and three minor metals (lithium, indium, and tellurium) that are or could become in high demand and short supply from 2011-2025. The DOE list and analysis was predicated on future growth fueled by Obama’s proposed subsidies of the electric and hybrid vehicle, wind turbine, solar, and fluorescent lighting industries.

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